What is Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle Cell Anemia is an ailment caused by the crescent shaped formation of the red blood cells in a person. It is classified as a genetically transmitted disease that is passed down to the offspring from the parents. The component of the blood, hemoglobin S is said to be responsible for this malfunctioning in the person. The name, ‘sickle cell anemia’ derives its origin from the fact that the red blood cells in such people are crescent or sickle shaped, unlike the disc shape red blood cells in a healthy person. According to experts, even if one of the parents has hemoglobin S, the chance of the kid suffering from sickle cell anemia is high.

It is disheartening to note that the life expectancy of a person suffering from sickle cell anemia is not more than 50 years. The occurrence of this abnormality was highest in the sub Saharan African regions. The improper functioning of hemoglobin within the red blood cells of the person suffering from this ailment leads to insufficient supply of oxygen to the blood, thereby, leading to series of complications. The sickle shaped blood cells also cause blockage as they get stuck in small blood vessels.

Some of the commonly seen symptoms of sickle cell anemia are pain in the bones, back, pain the abdomen and fatigue. The intensity of the symptoms varies from one person to another. Some people show signs of jaundice too wherein their eyes become yellow. The symptoms like priapism have also been reported in men wherein, the erection is prolonged and extremely painful. Pain in the chest and frequent urination are other symptoms seen in people who suffer from this ailment.

There are a few steps that need to be conducted before confirming the presence of sickle cell anemia in the person. By performing full blood count test, one can get to know as to what is the intensity of the ailment. Hemoglobin electrophoresis, urine test and white blood count test is also performed to find out the severity of the disease in the person. Though the ailment of sickle cell anemia cannot be cured completely, the problem caused by the symptoms can be reduced by undergoing treatment. Blood transfusion, kidney dialysis and surgery for priapism are a must when the disease later stages. Even when the symptoms are absent, the person needs to be under ongoing treatment to avoid complications of any kind.

It is said that people who suffer from sickle cell anemia are at high risk of suffering from coexisting disorders. With the intake of sufficient fluids and living in places that are less polluted, the life expectancy of a person with this disorder can be increased.