What is Sickle Cell Disease: Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

Sickle cell anemia is a genetic and inherited form of anemia – a condition in which here aren’t sufficient healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout your body.

Normally our red blood cells are flexible and round, moving smoothly through your blood vessels, In sickle cell anemia, the red blood cells grow stiff and sticky and are formed like a crescent moon or sickles. These irregularly formed cells can get stuck in small blood vessels. Which can slow or block blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body?

There is no cure for people with sickle cell anemia. However, treatments can relieve pain and help prevent further problems associated with sickle cells anemia.


Signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia often don’t appear until an infant is at least four months old and may include:

  • Anemia. Sickle cells are fragile. They break separate easily and die, leaving yours without a good quantity of red blood cells. Red blood cells usually live for about 120 days before they die after an average of fewer than 20 days. These results in a lasting shortage of red blood cells in circulation, your body can get the oxygen it needs to feel energized. That is way anemia causes fatigue.
  • Episodes of pain. Periodic episodes of pain, referred to as crises are a major symptom of sickle cells anemia. Pain Develops when sickle -shaped red blood cells block blood flow through tiny blood vessels to your chest, abdomen, and joints. Pain can also occur in your bones. The pain may very in intensely and can last for few weeks. Some people experience only a few episode of pain. Others experience a dozen or more cases years If a crises is severe enough, you may need to be hospitalized.
  • Hand-foot syndrome – Swollen hands and feet may be signs of sickle cells anemia in babies. The swelling is triggered by sickle-shaped red blood cells blocking blood flow out of their hands and feet.
  • Frequent infections. Sickle cells can induce injury to the spleen, and organ that fights infection. This may make you more vulnerable to infections. Physicians commonly give infants and children with sickle cell anemia vaccinations and antibiotics prevent potentially life-threatening infection, such as pneumonia.
  • Delayed growth Red cells group  prevent your body intake oxygen and nutrients needed for growth. If there is a shortage of healthy red blood cells , This can damage the retina – a portion of the eye that processes visual images.

When should you See a doctor?
Even though Sickle cell anemia is normally diagnosed in infancy If you or your child develops any of the following issues, you should see your doctor right ways to seek emergency medical care.

  • Unexplained occurrences of severe pain, such as pain in the abdomen, bones, chest or joints.
  • Swelling in the feet or hands
  • Fever -people with sickle cell anemia have an increased risk of infection, and fever can be the first time of infection
  • Yellow skin tint and yellow inside the whites of the eye
  • Abdominal swelling, specifically, if the area is tender to touch.
  • Any signs or symptoms of stroke. If you notice anyone is paralysis or weakness in the face, arms or legs, confusion, difficulty walking or talking, sudden vision problems or unexplained numbness, or a headache, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

Causes of Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia is prompted by a mutation of the gene that creates hemoglobin – the red and iron-rich compound that gives blood its red color. Hemoglobin allows red blood cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to all the other portions of the body. IN sickle cell anemia the abnormal hemoglobin produces red blood cells to become rigid, sticky and mis-shaped.
The sickle cell gene is passed genetically to the next generation in a pattern of inheritance; also called autosomal recessive inherent. This indicates that both the mother and the father pass on the defective form of the genes for a child to be affected.

If only one parent gives the sickle cell gene to the child, that child will have the sickle cell trait. Among one normal hemoglobin gene and one defective form of the gene, individual with the sickle cell trait make both sickle cell hemoglobin and normal hemoglobin, and sickle cell hemoglobin. Their blood may contain some sickle cells, But they don’t normally experience symptoms. Nonetheless, They are carriers of the disease, which means they can cross the defective gene on to their children.

With each pregnancy, two people with sickle cell traits have:
A 25 percent chance of producing an unaffected child while normal hemoglobin.
A 50 percent chance of having a child who also is a carrier.
A 25 percent chance of having a child with sickle cell anemia.

Risk Factors

The potential for inheriting sickle cell anemia comes down to genetics. For a baby to be born with sickle cell anemia, both parents must carry a sickle cell gene. The gene is more prevalent in families from Africa or Mediterranean countries, India, and Saudia Arabia

Sickle cell anemia can lead to several complications including the following:

  • Stroke . A stroke can transpire if sickle cells obstruct blood flow to an area of your brain. Signs of stroke involve seizures, weakness or numbness of your arms and legs. Sudden speech difficulties and loss of consciousness. If your child has nay of these signs and symptoms, you should seek medical help immediately. A stroke can be fatal.
  • Acute Chest Syndrome. This is life-threatening, of sickle cell anemia., causing chest pain difficulty breathing and fever. A lung infection or sickle cell blocking blood vessels within the lungs can cause acute chest syndrome. It may necessitate emergency medical treatment with antibiotics and other treatments.
  • Pulmonary hypertension. People with sickle cell anemia can also develop high blood pressure within the lungs referred to as pulmonary Hyperion. This complication normally affects adults rather than children. Shortness of breath and figure are common system of this condition; which can be fatal
  • Organ damage – Sickle cells can block the flow of blood through blood vessels. Immediately depriving an organ of oxygen and blood can cause issues. In sickle cell anemia, blood is constant low on oxygen. Chronic deprivation of oxygen-rich blood can damage nerves and organs in your body, including your kidneys liver and spleen. Organ damage can be fatal.
  • Blindness. Tiny blood vessels that supply your can get blocked by sickle cells. Over the course of time, this can cause damage to the retina, which processes visual images and leads to blindness.
    Skin ulcers. Sickle cell anemia can cause open sources, called ulcers within the legs.
  • Gallstones The breakdown of red blood cells produced a substance called bilirubin. A high level of bilirubin in your body leads to gallstones.
  • Priapism  – Men with sickle cell anemia may experience painful an long – lasting erection, As occurring in other par of the body, cycle cells can block the blood vessels in the penis. This can damage the penis, eventually leading to impotence.

What is Sickle Cell Disease: Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

Health Life Media Team