Sickle cell disease, is also known as sickle cell anaemia, it is a hereditary blood disorder which is characterized through red blood cells, which take on a rigid, abnormal and sickle shape. Sickling trims down the flexibility of cells and leads to a risk of several life-threatening problems.
Sickle cell disease refers to a set of disorders that have an impact on the molecule in red blood cells which transports oxygen to cells all through the body. Individuals having this illness have atypical hemoglobin molecules known as “Haemoglobin-S” that could deform red blood cells into a sickle shape.
Moreover, symptoms and signs of sickle cell disease generally occur during early childhood. Some traits of this particular illness shows in a low number of red blood cells i.e. anaemia, frequent infections, and cyclic episodes of pain.
The acuteness of signs and symptoms differs from individual to individual. While few individuals exhibit mild symptoms, others are often admitted to the hospital for highly severe complications.
The symptoms and signs of sickle cell disease occur by the sickling of red blood cells. In a rumpled state, the red blood cell does not enjoy maximum exposure to oxygen in the blood stream. Yet, its job is to attract oxygen and take it to all cells for their metabolic and other living processes. When deprived of oxygen, the body’s growth is stunted, the immune system does not function optimally, microbes overgrow in population, this then leads to attack and damages of healthy and unhealthy cells. Due to the fact that sickle cells cannot adequately defend themselves, they do not live beyond about half the lifespan of normal red blood cells.
When red blood cells sickle, they split prematurely and this could result in anaemia. Anaemia could result in fatigue, shortness of breath as well as delayed development and growth in children. The speedy breakdown of the red blood cells in sufferers might also lead to yellowing of the skin and eyes, and these are symptoms of jaundice.
Additionally, painful incidents could happen when sickled red blood cells that are inflexible and rigid, get caught within small blood vessels. Such situation deprives organs and tissues of oxygen-rich blood and could result in organ damage particularly in the kidneys, lungs, spleen and lastly, brain.
One of the severe problem of this disease is high blood pressure within the blood vessels, which supply the lungs. This is known as pulmonary hypertension.
Moreover, pulmonary hypertension occurs in around one-third of individuals suffering from sickle cell disease and could result in heart failure.
Sickle cell disease affects a large number of individuals around the world. The disease is highly widespread amongst individuals whose ancestors come from regions like Africa; Mediterranean nations like Turkey, Greece and Italy; India; the Arabian Peninsula and lastly, Spanish-speaking areas within South America, Central America, and areas of the Caribbean. Also, sickle cell disease is quite widespread in the United States, having an effect on over 80,000 Americans.
However, I strongly believe that sickle cell is not a death sentence, regardless of the complications which stems from it. When adequately managed and treated, crisis can be controlled. There is a need to inform medical practitioners or experts, whenever a crisis cannot be managed at home. Taking lots of water to avoid dehydration would also help and aid blood flow in the body. A daily medication of folic acid, proguanil and vitamin C as prescribed by the clinician would also go a long way in keeping frequent crisis at bay.
Keep Living Strong.