Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a disease that causes healthy red blood cells to become misshapen and deformed. In a person with sickle cell disease abnormal hemoglobin can be found in their red blood cells, causing them to become deformed. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. In a healthy person, hemoglobin picks up oxygen from the lungs and delivers it to cells in the body. In a person with SCD, hemoglobin becomes rigid and forms strands causing the cell to form into a crescent or sickle shape.
Anemia is a lack of red blood cells, so in conjunction with each red blood cell deformity the disease is very damaging and hard to treat. Normally, red blood cells can contract to become smaller and fit through smaller blood vessels. In a person with sickle cell anemia, the long strands of hemoglobin prevent the cell from being flexible and the cells can not make it through the blood vessels.
The sickle cells also become sticky and stick to the walls of the blood vessel eventually creating a blockage. Over time this blockage can eventually cause a stroke or complete loss of blood flow to a body part.Sickle cells don’t live as long as normal red blood cells. Since they can’t easily change shape, they tend to burst apart in a situation where they are put under a lot of stress, such as a blockage. Normal red blood cells tend to live 90 to 120 days.
But sickle cells tend to live only 10 to 20 days. The body makes new red blood cells all the time, but it may not be able to make enough to replace all of the destroyed red blood cells. This is called anemia. This can cause fatigue, weakness and faster heartbeat, which could cause more sickle cells to create blockages or be destroyed.Symptoms of the disease The symptoms of the disease can vary from very severe to mild or almost unnoticeable.
The main symptoms of sickle cell anemia are fatigue, infections, and pain. Victims of the disease are living in constant pain in their joints, and sometimes sudden in the chest. Other symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, low oxygen in the body, and malaise. TreatmentsUnfortunately, there is no cure for this disease. However the symptoms can be lessened through treatments. There are multiple categories of treatments, and they are usually used in conjunction with each other. Sometimes, the treatments just flat out don’t work. Still, work is going on to improve treatment for this disease, and possibly create a cure.
Medications Medicine can help treat the disease. Certain medications such as painkillers dull pain, and vitamins and chemotherapy can help restore blood back to normal by promoting healthy growth within the body. Most people who end up going this route are taking pills for the rest of their lives to keep the disease under control.
2. Therapy/Specialists Specialists can help monitor how your body is doing and make sure it is performing well. Specialists can also prescribe new meds for victims of the disease if their current ones aren’t helping.
However, some areas aren’t as fortunate, and do not have the proper medical equipment and supplies, which brings me to the next section.Who does it affect? Sickle cell disease is more common in African Americans because 1 in every 12 persons of African ethnicity carries a sickle cell gene. The disease is also common in people in Central and south America, the middle east, Asia and India. The problems however, occur in developing countries who cannot afford proper medical supplies and care. People in places like Uganda are the most at risk for this disease.