Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle cell anemia is a disease passed down through families in which red blood cells form an abnormal crescent shape. The “sickling” occurs because of a mutation in the hemoglobin gene. Sickle cells are stiff and sticky. They tend to block blood flow in the blood vessels of the limbs and organs. Blocked blood flow can cause pain, serious infections, and organ damage. Life expectancy in people who have this disease is shortened. Anemia is a condition in which your blood has a lower than normal number of red blood cells. This condition also can occur if your red blood cells don't contain enough hemoglobin. Red blood cells are made in the spongy marrow inside the large bones of the body. Bone marrow is always making new red blood cells to replace old ones. Normal red blood cells live about 120 days in the bloodstream and then die. They carry oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from your body. In sickle cell anemia, the number of red blood cells is low because sickle cells don't last very long. Sickle cells usually die after only about 10 to 20 days. The bone marrow can't make new red blood cells fast enough to replace the dying ones. Sickle cell anemia is an inherited, lifelong disease. People who have the disease are born with it. They inherit two genes for sickle hemoglobin—one from each parent. People who inherit a sickle hemoglobin gene from one parent and a normal gene from the other parent have a condition called sickle cell trait. Sickle cell trait is different than sickle cell anemia. People who have sickle cell trait don't have the disease, but they have one of the genes that cause it. Like people who have sickle cell anemia, people who have sickle cell trait can pass the sickle hemoglobin gene on to their children. Symptoms:
Symptoms usually don't occur until after age 4 months. Almost all patients that are diagnosed with sickle cell anemia have crises. Crises are painful episodes that can affect the bones of the...
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