Sickle cell is a genetic chronic blood disorder that causes the red blood cells to bend into a crescent and impede blood flow. Sickle cell anemia (SCA) is a genetically transmitted blood disorder, where the red blood cells crouch like a sickle and fail to deliver required amount of oxygen into the body. In case of healthy human body, the red blood cells are flexible and round, but in case of individuals suffering from this inherited case of anemia, the blood cells tend to become sickle shaped and extremely sticky. There is no known cure for this rare form of anemia. Sickle cell anemia is a disorder that can trigger a host of other physical complications like acute chest disorder, stroke and at times lead to multiple organ failure too. Although people suffering from this chronic disorder are generally asymptomatic and have no such abnormal physical findings, the disorder, nevertheless, has its own share of signs and symptoms that makes the abnormality more evident. To know more about the most common symptoms of sickle cell anemia, read on.
Signs & Symptoms For Sickle Cell Anemia
- One of the most common symptoms for sickle cell anemia is loss of red blood cells. As sickle cells tend to be fragile, they dismantle and die easily, leaving one chronically anemic. Red blood cells last for 120 days, before they break apart. However, in case of sickle cell, the red blood cells tend to die within a span of 20 days, resulting in a chronic shortage of red blood cells in body, leading to fatigue and malaise.
- Sickle cell anemia is a painful condition, triggered by bouts of spasms on chest, abdomen, bones and joints. Sickle shaped red blood cells deflect and block the blood flow through blood vessels. This results in periodic episodes of pain that usually differs in their intensity and can at times last for a few weeks.
- Another common symptom of sickle cell anemia in babies is swollen hand and feet. The sickle-shaped blood cells impede free flow of blood in blood vessels, thereby causing the hands and feet to swell. This is called as hand-foot syndrome, which causes pain and swelling in hands and feet. This syndrome hits the back of hands and feet and gradually moves to fingers and toes.
- Most babies suffering from sickle cell disorder also reveal signs of jaundice. This is because sickle cell anemia affects the liver drastically. The rapid breakdown of red blood cells incapacitates the ability of the liver to purify, leading to jaundice.
- Sickle cells also affect the spleen, making the body more vulnerable to infections and diseases. Spleen is one organ that assists the body to filter the red blood cells and fight infection. In sickle cell anemia, the spleen gets clogged that causes it to shrink. Infants are usually prescribed antibiotics to save them from life-threatening risk of potential infections like pneumonia. Meningitis, influenza and hepatitis are some other infections that are related to this disease.
- Red blood cells nourish the body with many essential nutrients and oxygen that helps in body growth and development. Dearth of red blood cells in body slows down growth in infants and delays puberty in teenagers.
- Another known symptom of sickle cell anemia is vision problems. Sickle cell anemia harms the retina that processes vision. The blood vessels supplying blood to eye is blocked, thereby impeding the supply of oxygen rich blood to the eyes and causing vision impairment. At times, sickle cell anemia it can also lead to blindness.