Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle Cell Anemia is a hereditary illness where the body’s red blood cells are shaped in an unusual crescent form. The effects of it can require hospitalization as painful episodes (known as crises) occur in the chest, back or long bones of the sufferer. All individuals with this disease will require ongoing treatment to treat their illness in a timely manner. This illness most commonly occurs in people of African heritage.
Symptoms include pain in the abdomen, difficulty breathing, delayed growth, constant fatigue, fever, pale complexion, leg ulcers and heart palpitations. Since frequent attacks can cause work-impairing disability for the sufferer, those with regular episodes of severe pain may qualify for social security disability as part of their illness.
Treating this illness often involves regular blood transfusions and antibiotics to prevent infection. Pain relief drugs are usually administered during a Crisis. Transplants and surgery can help treat the disease and highly risky bone marrow transplants can completely cure the illness. Because of the risks of marrow rejection, expenses and difficulty obtaining bone marrow most individuals never opt for attempting a cure and simply perform ongoing symptom treatment.
Sickle Cell Anemia is caused when the oxygen-carrying protein, hemoglobin, is shaped irregularly in a person’s blood cells. This irregular shape can cause the cells difficulty passing through some veins and makes them extremely fragile. The delicate nature and easy breaking of these cells through smaller blood vessels can result in the need for a constant recreation of the cells. Although this disease is hereditary, not all carriers of the gene will develop sickle cells. Despite this, the illness can still be passed down to the next generation.
You can test for Sickle Cell Anemia by Complete Blood Count, Hemoglobin electrophoresis or Sickle cell test. Blood oxygen, CT scan and MRI tests can also help diagnose the illness. Death from this disease is usually caused by organ failure or infection. With modern medical advances, patients with this illness can easily live into their fifties or beyond.
Preventing a Sickle Cell Anemia Crisis requires avoiding strenuous physical activity, stress, high altitude environments with low oxygen and smoking. Regular fluid consumption is required to help combat the sickling of blood cells. Due to the elevated dangers of infection, it is also imperative that a Sickle Cell Anemia sufferer is up to date on their vaccinations and takes precautions to avoid exposure to illness carrying germs and parasites.