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Sickle Cell Anemia
As an inherited condition, it is presence of hemoglobin which tends to be abnormal that brings about sickle cell anemia. In basic terms, hemoglobin is a red blood cell protein whose main function is carrying oxygen. It is this hemoglobin abnormality that informs 'sickled' or distorted red blood cells whose survival is compromised as a result of the distortion and fragility. Though the prevalence of the condition largely varies in accordance with the region, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention points out that of all blood disorders, sickle cell anemia has earned itself a distinction as the most commonly inherited in America. In this text, I come up with a complete and concise definition of the disorder and its prevalence. I also detail how the condition affects body systems and how it is treated.
A Detailed Overview of the Condition
When it comes to individuals with sickle cell anemia, their normal hemoglobin largely differs from sickle or abnormal hemoglobin (hemoglobin S). According to Crowley (2009), abnormal hemoglobin is brought about by the alteration of globin chain forming amino acids as a result of an abnormality in the genes which control amino acids arrangement in hemoglobin. Crowley also states that the functioning of the abnormal hemoglobin is not affected in some cases. However, in some other cases, the abnormal hemoglobin may develop some properties which are largely unusual hence effectively leading to an impairment of their functioning.
While red blood cells that are rather normal can move with relative ease within vessels and are usually round in shape, abnormal red blood cells usually have their movement largely affected (especially through blood vessels which are significantly small ) as a result of their strange crescent shape. As a result of this impairment, they commonly get stuck and effectively block other blood cells. With this blockage, it becomes difficult for the red blood cells to reach the various organs as well as tissues hence eventually damaging the same. This blockage is known to bring about what is commonly referred to as a sickle cell crisis episode. During a sickle cell crisis, severe pain brought about by the denial of oxygen to a certain body part is experienced (Falvo, 2005). Indeed, it can be noted that severe obstruction of red blood cells flow may bring about tissue death or what is also referred to as necrosis.
Further, the fragility of abnormal red blood cells commonly informs their rupture. It is this rapture or what is also known as hemolysis that brings about a sustained decrease in the red blood cells count hence resulting in anemia. According to Khanna (2009), the average lifespan of abnormal red blood cells is between ten and twenty days. However, normal blood cells have an average lifespan of up to one hundred and twenty days.
Sickle Cell Anemia: Signs and Symptoms
It can be noted that when it comes to this condition, the signs and symptoms largely vary. Hence in this sense, symptoms could either be severe or mild. However, for infants, it may take up to approximately four months after birth for signs of sickle cell anemia to show up; though the condition is present at birth. In most cases, sickle cell anemia exhibits signs which are either loosely or strongly connected to anemia with occasional bouts of pain. With that in mind, most of the other evident signs and symptoms are brought about by the complications of the condition.
In most cases, individuals having sickle cell anemia may occasionally feel rather weak and tired. The United States Department of Health and Human Services gives other symptoms of the condition as jaundice, constant headaches and occasional feelings of dizziness. Other symptoms given in this case include feet and hand coldness and short breaths. It should be noted that these signs and symptoms are also in one way or the other linked to anemia. Further, individuals with the condition may experience occasional but sudden body pains i.e. In what I have explained earlier on in this text as sickle cell crisis. The occurrence of pain in this case also largely depends on an individual with some people experiencing severe pains only occasionally while for others, the same may…[continue]
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Another symptom that is often found is a yellowing of skin and eyes; this is a sign of jaundice due to the breakdown of red blood cells. Another sign is that children may show delayed growth and development. (Genetic Disease Profile: Sickle Cell Anemia) One of the aspects that problematizes this disease are the complications that can arise as a result of the lowering of body defenses and the increased
These crises are a direct result of way in which the deformed red blood cells adhere to both each other and the insides of the blood vessel walls, blocking tissues from receiving oxygen. The disease is prevalent across some parts of Africa, the Middle East and India, which is due to the way in which the heterozygous form of the condition offers carriers a degree of protection against malaria,
For example, in the case of sickle beta thalassemia, the individual has inherited a gene for hemoglobin S. from one parent and a gene for beta-thalassemia from the other. Or, in the instance of SC disease, the individual has inherited a gene for hemoglobin S. from one parent and a gene for hemoglobin C. from the other. The sickle cell trait in heterozygous carriers confers the resistance to malaria phenotype
If there is evidence of the sickle cell gene the tests will be repeated to confirm diagnosis (NIH). It is also possible to test the fetus for sickle cell anemia prior to birth through amniocentesis although this is not normally performed unless there is reason to believe the child will have sickle cell anemia due to the risk which this procedure presents to the fetus. Electrophoresis is performed on
This is often associated with an infection by Parvovirus B-19. The bone marrow's replacement of the cells is disrupted. This usually manifests with a rapid drop in hemoglobin levels. Luckily, this condition is usually self limited, and the treatment is mostly supportive. Recovery is usually heralded by an increase in the reticulocyte count. In children and in adolescents, sickle cell disease causes growth retardation, a delay in the manifestation of
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