Sickle Cell Anemia – Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
Summary: Sickle cell disease is characterized by excruciating pain that can happen anywhere in the body and painkillers must be kept close at hand to counter the pain. The disease is so called because normally round blood cells become crescent or sickle shaped and blood does not flow like it is normally supposed to.
Sickle cell anemia is a condition that affects the blood cells and it causes the body to lose some of its immunity. This disease is very common in people of African origin and it is a form of thalassemia. It is fairly common and is usually hereditary. This condition is quite serious, can be very painful and medical attention is absolutely necessary. What happens here is that the blood cells which are ideally supposed to be round shrink into a crescent shape. The shape has also been compared to sickles, hence the name. This is not the ideal shape and causes several complications.
Sickle Cell Anemia Symptoms
Sickle cell anemia Symptoms are a direct result of the complications caused by this warping in shape. To begin with, blood does not flow properly and this means the oxygen supply to the body is not optimum. The cells don’t flow with the blood as effectively as they would if they were round. Also, the hemoglobin contained in these cells is of an abnormal form known as hemoglobin S. The sickle cells don’t last very long, they die out after one to three weeks. These cells also tend to clog up the spleen. The spleen plays an important role when it comes to maintaining the immunity of the body and this can compromise the immune system.
Diagnosis of sickle cell anemia involves a blood test wherein the constituents of blood are examined and sickle cells can be detected if any. The disease causes pain that can be intense and excruciating. The pain can occur anywhere in the body – hands, legs, back, joints, etc. Also, the clogging of the spleen will cause the spleen to expand to an abnormal size and this further compromises the immune system of the body leading to secondary symptoms. Pain can be very severe and it is advisable to have painkillers close at hand. These painkillers will do little to cure the condition but they can be extremely useful when it comes to providing relief from pain.
Another recommended remedy is to get a lot of fluids into the system which can aid the flow of blood. There is no known cure for sickle cell anemia, but the symptoms can be countered. Sufferers of this disease need to take in plenty of oxygen and iron rich foods. In cases where there has been too much damage, a blood transfusion will be required.