What is Sickle Cell Disease (Anemia)? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment (Home Remedies)

Home » What is Sickle Cell Anemia? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Garry Stewart
Written By Shasta Wilson

May 9, 2022

Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle Cell Anemia refers to a group of inherited disorders.

It basically affects the red blood cells’ shape that carries oxygen to all the other parts of the body. RBCs are generally round and flexible so that they can move easily through the blood vessels.

In sickle cell anemia disease, several RBCs are shaped like crescent moons or sickles that become sticky and rigid that can also block or slow down the blood flow.

Since there is no cure for the disease, the treatment is focused on relieving the pain and helping prevent the complications associated.

Symptoms of Sickle Anemia

The symptoms of Sickle Anemia disease generally occur around 6 months of age; however, they may vary from person to person. However, the most common symptoms of the disease include:

  • Anemia
    Sickle cells generally break apart easily and then die, and usually, RBCs live for around 120 days before they require replacement.
    But when it is about sickle cells, it typically dies in 10 to 20 days only. This indeed leaves RBCs shortage.
  • Pain episodes
    The period pain episodes include extreme pain and are considered a major symptom of the disease.
  • Hands and feet swelling
    The swelling in hands and feet caused due to sickle-shaped RBCs blocks the blood circulation in feet and hands.
  • Delayed Growth
    RBCs provide an individual’s body with nutrients and oxygen required for growth. The shortage of healthy RBCs can slow down the development of children and infants.
  • Vision Issues
    The blood vessels that supply the eyes can become plugged with these sickle cells leading to retina damage. This can easily lead to vision issues.
  • Frequent injection
    The sickle cells damage spleen while augmenting the vulnerability to infections.

“Grow Stronger From The Pain Don’t Let It Destroy You”

When do you need to see a medical doctor?

Visit your healthcare provider if you or your child experiences any of the symptoms associated with the disease. However, one must seek emergency care for the symptoms, including

  • Confusion
  • One-sided paralysis
  • Weakness in arms, legs, or face
  • Unexplained numbness
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Severe headache

Causes of Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia is generally caused due to the modifications in the genes that tell the body to make an iron-rich compound in RBCs known as hemoglobin.

Hemoglobin allows the RBCs to carry oxygen from the lungs to the body. And the hemoglobin associated with the disease causes RBCs to become sticky, misshapen, and rigid.

In case of a child is affected, both father and mother must carry one of the sickle cell gene’s copies. If one parent passes this gene to their child, the child will also have the sickle cell trait.

Risk Factors Included!

For a baby to be born with the disease, both parents must carry a sickle cell gene. In most of the US locations, the disease most commonly affects the people of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and African descent.

Complications involved!

The disease can lead to a wide range of complications, including

  • Acute Chest Syndrome
  • Stroke
  • Organ Damage
  • Pulmonary Hypertension
  • Blindness
  • Splenic Sequestration
  • Gallstones
  • Leg Ulcers
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Priapism

Prevention from the Disease

If a person has a sickle cell trait, visiting a genetic counselor trying to conceive can facilitate you understanding the risk of having a kid with the disease. A genetic counselor can also explain the preventive measures, possible treatments, and other reproductive options.

Diagnosis of Sickle Cell Anemia

A blood test can verify the hemoglobin form that underlies the disease.
The other disease diagnosis includes accessing the stroke or tests to detect the sickle cell genes before birth.

Treatment of Sickle Cell Anemia

The treatment of the disease is generally aimed at preventing complications, avoiding pain episodes, and relieving symptoms. The therapy might include blood transfusions and medications.

The list of common medications include:

  • Hydroxyurea
  • Crizanlizumab
  • L-glutamine oral powder
  • Voxelotor
  • Pain-relieving medications

Preventing Infections from Disease

Children with the disease might receive penicillin between two months of age and 5 years.

Performing this might help prevent infections like pneumonia that can even be life-threatening to the children with the disease.

The adults with the disease might also need to take penicillin throughout their life if they have pneumonia or surgery to remove the spleen.

Surgical and Other Procedures for the Disease

The other surgical procedures to treat health conditions include:

  • Stem cell transplant
  • Blood transfusions

Home remedies and lifestyle changes

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Take folic acid supplements to stay healthy
  • Choose a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly but do not overdo
  • Avoid extreme temperatures
  • Do not smoke
  • Use non-prescription medications with caution

Coping and Support

  • Find someone to talk with
  • Explore ways to cope with pain
  • Learn about the disease to make more informed decisions concerning care.
  • Join some support groups

What you can do before meeting the doctors?

Make a note of the following:

  • Symptoms you are experiencing often
  • Key personal information
  • Other medications you are consuming
  • Questions to ask

Bottom Line!

Sickle cell Anemia is a disease involving a group of inherited RBCs disorders. Though there is no accurate cure for the disease but the treatments are based on the symptoms, and a medical doctor may only help!

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