Sickle Cell Anemia
is Sickle Cell Anemia?
Sickle cell anemia is a blood disorder which affects hemoglobin, which is a protein that is found in a person’s red blood cells and helps carry oxygen through the body. The disease occurs when someone inherits an abnormal gene from each parent. The disease causes a person’s red blood cells to change shape. Usually a person’s red blood cells are round and flexible, but the cells that you have from sickle cell anemia are curved and rigid. The cells are in the shape of a tool known as the sickle and that is where the disease gets its name. The shape also looks like the crescent moon. When you’re blood cells turn curved and rigid they can waver between being sickle shaped and normal shaped until they are sickle shaped permanently. These sickle cells are able to clog blood vessels and deny the body’sorgans and tissues of the oxygen that they need in order to stay healthy. The disease is not contagious. People that have the actual disease of sickle cell anemia inherited one sickle cell gene from each parent. If a child inherits only one sickle cell gene then they will not get the disease but will still have the sickle cell trait. If a person has a sickle cell trait they can still give the sickle cell gene over to their children.
Normal red blood cells last for about four months in the bloodstream, but sickle cells can break down between ten and twenty days. This usually causes anemia. Anemia is what occurs when the body’s amount of red blood cells is below normal. A person gets sickle cell anemia if both of their parents have the disease. Or the person can just get the sickle cell trait if one of their parents have the disease.
Teens that have sickle cell anemia can develop jaundice which is a condition that results from a high rate of the red blood cell breakdown. Jaundice is able to cause the whites of a person’s eyes and the person’s skin to turn a yellowish tint. People that have sickle cell anemia can have bouts of ache in the stomach, arms, chest, or other parts of their body. This is caused by the sickle cells blocking the blood flow which is through the blood vessels. Having trouble fighting infections and feeling tired are also common amongst teens that have sickle cell anemia. They may also experience puberty later than some other teens and also grow more slowly. Periods of pain can be referred to as crises. One person may only have one sickle crises per year. Another person might experience crises more often. Some crises can be short, last hours, days, maybe even weeks. Symptoms are able to develop in any body tissue or organ which includes aching, legs, arms, shoulders, and hips. If people that have the disease receive acute chest syndrome, they could have severe abdominal and chest pain, cough, fever, and trouble breathing.
Doctors use hemoglobin electrophoresis to diagnosis sickle cell anemia which is a blood test to search for HbS in someone’s blood. There is not a cure for the disease; it is possible to die from the disease. Doctors can still give treatments that can help stop complications from the disease. A vitamin called folic acid helps the body create new red blood cells and is frequently prescribed for teens that have sickle cell anemia. Pain medications can help relieve symptoms of crises. Teens and kids who have the disease frequently take penicillin or some other antibiotics in order to help fight infections. Some crises can be taken care of at home with rest, pain medications, and extra fluids. People that have the disease can use oxygen to help relieve symptoms that are during a crises or an event of acute chest syndrome. Teens with the disease might need to get transfusions of some healthy red blood cells in order to assist in carrying oxygen to e tissues that are of their bodies more efficiently.
Scientists are researching ways so they can help people that have sickle cell anemia. A few drugs that are on the market have helped decrease painful episodes and crises of acute chest syndrome that some adults with the condition have. Scientists are also testing some other drugs in order to see if they can work for teens and kids. This is in rare cases, but people that have severe sickle cell anemia can receive a bone marrow transplant in order to help them create healthy hemoglobin. As a fine treatment for the disease scientists are studying gene therapy. Doctors could be able to prevent the disease by replacing or changing an abnormal gene which causes sickle cell anemia.
This picture shows the difference between normal blood cells and sickle cells.
Cell Anemia, Mad Cow,
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