Medical Terminology 1
18, April 2013
Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle-cell Anemia is a genetic blood disorder caused by the presence of an abnormal form of hemoglobin molecules in which the red blood cells loose their disc-shape and become crescent shaped. The shape also known as “hemoglobin S”. unlike normal red cells which are usually smooth and malleable, tend to collect after releasing oxygen, and cannot squeeze through small blood vessels. The organs are then deprived of blood and oxygen.
The basic life-span of an affected cell is generally from 1.5 to about 3 weeks, which represents approximately 10% to 20% of a normal cell's life. Because they cannot be replaced fast enough, the blood is chronically short of red cells. This results in abnormal functioning and breakdown, causing episodes of re-occurring pain, discomfort, and damage to vital organs, causing Anemia.
It is not contagious, nor can it be transmitted through contact. It can only be caught through birth, and must be inherited from both parents for the illness to occur in children. A child with only one copy of the gene may have sickle-cell traits but no symptoms of illness.
Historically, Sickle Cell Anemia has only affected people who originate from areas of Africa, parts of India, the Mediterranean, South and Central America, the Caribbean, or descendants of these groups. About 2,000 babies are born with sickle cell disease each year in the United States.
Symptoms of this condition include, severe pain, anemia, chest pain and difficulty breathing, strokes, joint or arthritis pain, bone infarctions, and blockage of blood flow in the spleen or liver. These are sometimes followed by severe infections, fatigue, paleness, rapid heart rate, shortness
of breath, yellowing of the eyes and skin. Younger children with sickle cell anemia have attacks of abdominal pain. Other symptoms may occur like painful and prolonged erections (priapism), poor eyesight or blindness, problems with thinking or confusion caused by small strokes, and ulcers on the lower legs (in adolescents and adults). Over time, the spleen no longer works. As a result, people with sickle cell anemia may have symptoms of infections such as:
bone infection (Osteomylitis), Gallbladder infection (Cholecystitis), lung
infection (Pneumonia), and Urinary tract infection. Other symptoms
include, delayed growth and puberty, painful joints caused by arthritis
Patients with sickle cell disease develop severe pain in the chest, back,
arms, legs, and abdomen. Pain can occur anywhere in the body. Sickle red
blood cells in the lungs can cause severe illness with chest pain, fever, and
difficulty breathing. Sickle cell disease can also cause permanent damage
to the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, and bones.
The severity and symptoms vary greatly from person to person, even within the same family.
Patients with sickle cell disease need ongoing treatment, even when they are not having a painful crisis. It is best to receive care from health care providers and clinics that take care of many patients with sickle cell anemia. Treatments have vastly improved over the years, with new donations increasing slightly over the course of the past twenty years. Many healthcare providers have found specific measures to be rather effective, for example, Folic acid supplements should be taken because it
is needed to make new red blood cells. Treatments may include blood transfusions (may also be given
regularly to prevent stroke), pain medicines, and plenty of fluids. Other treatments for sickle cell anemia may include Hydroxyurea (Hydrea), a medicine that may help reduce the number of pain
episodes (including chest pain and difficulty breathing) in some people, or antibiotics to prevent bacterial infections, which are common in children with sickle cell disease.
There are additional treatments that may be needed...