Sickle Cell Anemia
What is Sickle Cell Anemia?
Sickle Cell Anemia is an inherited form of anemia where there aren't enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout the body, causing the cells to become rigid and sticky and resemble a C-shaped farm tool called a "sickle."
Who’s at Risk for Sickle Cell Anemia?
Sickle Cell Anemia affects millions of people worldwide and is most common in people whose families come from Africa, South or Central America, Caribbean islands, Mediterranean countries, India, and Saudi Arabia.
What Causes Sickle Cell Anemia?
Sickle Cell Anemia is caused by a mutation in the gene that tells your body to make hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells. This genetic mutation results in red blood cells that are shaped like sickles or crescent moons.
How Does Sickle Cell Anemia Start?
Sickle Cell Anemia is present at birth, but most infants don't show any signs until they are more than 4 months old.
What Are the Symptoms of Sickle Cell Anemia?
Symptoms of Sickle Cell Anemia include anemia, episodes of pain, frequent infections, delayed growth, and vision problems.
How is Sickle Cell Anemia Diagnosed?
Sickle Cell Anemia is usually diagnosed at birth with a simple blood test during routine newborn screening tests. In adults, a blood sample drawn from a vein in the arm can be tested for the disease.
How Can Sickle Cell Anemia be Treated?
While there is no cure for most people with Sickle Cell Anemia, treatments can relieve pain, prevent complications, and help manage the condition. These include medication for pain, vaccinations to prevent infections, blood transfusions, and in some cases, a bone marrow transplant.
What Complications May Occur with Sickle Cell Anemia?
Complications of Sickle Cell Anemia include stroke, acute chest syndrome, pulmonary hypertension, organ damage, blindness, skin ulcers, and gallstones.
How Can I Prevent Sickle Cell Anemia?
Since Sickle Cell Anemia is a genetic condition, it cannot be prevented. However, if you carry the sickle cell trait, consider seeking genetic counseling before starting a family.
Long-term Management of Sickle Cell Anemia
Long-term management of Sickle Cell Anemia involves regular check-ups, pain management, prevention of infections, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
What is Recent Research Saying About Sickle Cell Anemia?
Recent research on Sickle Cell Anemia is focusing on finding a universal cure, understanding the causes of complications, and improving treatment options.
Where Can I Go For More Information on Sickle Cell Anemia?
For more information on Sickle Cell Anemia, visit reputable health websites like the American Society of Hematology, the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, or the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.