Sickle cell anemia, also known as sickle cell disease, is a genetic disease in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
Normal red blood cells are shaped like a round plate and can move freely and easily through blood vessels, transporting oxygen to every part of the body. In people with sickle cell anemia, the red blood cells will be sickle-shaped and stiff and sticky. These irregularly shaped red blood cells have difficulty moving in smaller blood vessels and slow down or stop blood flow, preventing oxygen from being delivered to some parts of the body, causing tissues and organs to suffer from lack of oxygen. damage.
How common is sickle cell anemia?
The genes for sickle cell anemia mainly come from: Africa, India, the Mediterranean region, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Caribbean Islands, Central and South America. Most patients with sickle cell anemia have darker skin.
Symptoms of sickle cell anemia
Common symptoms of sickle cell anemia include:
- Chronic anemia.
- Heartbeat too fast.
- Swelling of hands and feet due to blocked blood vessels.
- Jaundice, growth retardation.
- Severe pain in the chest, abdomen, joints, and bones that can last from hours to weeks.
Sickle cell anemia is a congenital disease, but new symptoms may appear after 4 months of age. In addition, complications of sickle cell anemia include: kidney and eye disease, foot gangrene, stroke, osteomyelitis, pneumonia and other inflammatory symptoms. In the most severe cases, a patient’s bone marrow stops making red blood cells. Some symptoms of sickle cell anemia are not listed here. If you are concerned about any symptoms, please consult your doctor.
When should you see a doctor?
Although sickle cell anemia is usually diagnosed in infancy, see your doctor immediately if you have any of the following problems:
- You don’t know why, but you experience intense pain in your abdomen, chest, bones, or joints.
- Swelling of hands or feet.
- The abdomen is swollen and painful if touched.
- Fever, because people with sickle cell anemia are not only at higher risk of infection and fever, but fever is often the first sign of infection.
- Dull, pale skin.
- The skin becomes yellowish, or the whites of the eyes appear yellow.
- Symptoms of a stroke include: numbness or weakness on one side of the face, arm, or foot; confusion; loss of vision or sudden loss of vision.
If you have any questions, please consult your physician. Since everyone’s physical condition is different, only by carefully discussing with your doctor can you find the most suitable medical method.
Causes of sickle cell anemia
Sickle cell anemia occurs due to mutations in the gene that makes heme (Beta-globin gene) in the body. Heme is the iron-rich compound that gives blood its red color and allows red blood cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to various parts of the body. If you have sickle cell anemia, abnormal hemoglobin causes the red blood cells to become hard, sticky, deformed, and unable to carry oxygen.
Risk factors for sickle cell anemia
The only factors that increase the risk of sickle cell anemia are the genes of the biological father and mother. If parents have the gene for sickle cell anemia, the chances of their children having the disease are:
- 25% of newborns will not have sickle cell anemia.
- 50% of newborns will have the recessive gene but will not have obvious symptoms of sickle cell anemia.
- 25% of newborns are born with sickle cell anemia.
Diagnosis and treatment of sickle cell anemia
The information provided above does not replace the advice of a professional physician. If you want further information, please consult your physician at any time.
How is sickle cell anemia diagnosed?
To diagnose sickle cell anemia, doctors use medical records and family history to do blood tests to check for the disease or heme mutation. Babies can have a blood test immediately after birth to confirm whether they have sickle cell anemia.
How is sickle cell anemia treated?
- There is no complete cure for sickle cell anemia, and treatments performed by doctors can only control symptoms and relieve pain. However, if the patient feels abnormal pain and the drugs he is taking are not effective, the doctor will inject a strengthened analgesic anesthetic directly into the muscles or joints to block the nerve conduction of pain.
- Hydroxyurea (anti-tumor drug), which inhibits the production of red blood cells and plasma, is mainly used to prevent the continued occurrence of pain.
- Patients require constant supplementation with large amounts of water and nutrients, and regular blood transfusions are required to replace sickle cell anemic blood with healthy blood.
- Children must take penicillin regularly to prevent infection.
- Doctors may perform a bone marrow transplant on the patient, but this operation is quite complex and many factors must work together to be successful.
Lifestyle adjustments and home remedies for sickle cell anemia
The following lifestyle adjustments and home remedies may help combat the symptoms of sickle cell anemia:
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
- Maintain a balanced and healthy diet and eat plenty of green vegetables that are rich in folic acid.
- Moderate exercise to increase resistance.
- Get vaccinated as directed by your doctor.
- Pay attention to cabin pressure when flying to avoid being affected or feeling uncomfortable.
- Please take painkillers as directed by your doctor and do not take too much. If you need to take a new medication or change your medication, talk to your doctor first.
- Do not abuse alcohol or addictive narcotics to relieve pain.