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Sickle Cell Anemia

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Topics: Red blood cell, Pain
Sickle cell anemia is a disease that changes normal round red blood cells into cells that are shaped like crescent moons. Sickle cell comes from a farm tool with a curved blade. Sickle cells get stuck and block blood vessels which stop the oxygen from getting through. This causes a lot of pain and can also harm organs, muscles, and bones. Sickle cell is a lifelong battle that causes pain, infection, anemia, and even a stroke. Sickle cell is an inherited disease. It used to be that when people were diagnosed with sickle cell anemia they wouldn’t live beyond the age of 20 but now they live well past 50. Living with sickle cell is hard when you’re a child but as you get older it gets even harder because older adults between the ages of 26 and 45 really feel the effects. Sickle cell has a bigger effect on the brain and become more severe the older you get. Adults between the ages of 26 and 45 who have sickle cell may develop cognitive problems, such as having difficulty organizing their thoughts, making decisions or learning, even if they do not have severe complications such as a stroke. These challenges can have a tremendous effect on their way of life.
Most adults between those ages are misunderstood or are called “drug seekers” because they are often found trying to get medications to help relieve the pain from this disease. One characteristic of sickle cell is called “sickle cell crisis” or “pain crisis”. The pain is caused by clogged blood vessels and can be acute or chronic. Acute pain lasts from several hours to several days, and chronic pain can linger for weeks or even months. Living with sickle cell between the ages of 26 and 45 can have an effect on the physical appearance such as yellowing of the eyes which is called jaundice or eye damage, swollen hands or feet, pale skin or yellow tint to the skin, nail beds, and skin ulcers. Also, living with this disease between those ages have a much more tremendous effect on the organs. They experience nerve damage, kidney, liver and spleen damage or even failure. It can also lead to gallstones and gallbladder attacks that cause nausea and abdominal pain. With men between the ages of 26 and 45 they may develop priapism which is a painful and long-lasting erection. The sickle cell can block the blood vessels in the penis and can cause damage to the penis and eventually lead to impotence. This can cause the men between these ages to become depressed and become withdrawn from others. Adults between these ages with this disease have a quality of life that is similar to a dialysis patient and when they develop signs of depression most of them turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the pain and the mental ability to deal with this disease that they will have for the rest of their life.
People between theses ages really get frustrated and depressed when they can’t explain to others why they can’t do certain things. They want to feel connected with people who can and will understand what and how their feeling. People treat them like their liars just because they can’t really believe the type of pain there in or they get stereotyped like they have an eating disorder because they are smaller than everybody else. They get stressed out over the fact that the pain is unbearable and spending all their time in the hospital. They have to really try not to over exert themselves. It’s also physically and mentally draining to them when they feel like the health professionals don’t know what they’re doing or get refused service at a hospital because they lack the ability to treat people with sickle cell. The pain they have to go through makes many weary, depressed, and suicidal to the point where their pain tolerance decreases. They get mad and angry because they never know what the next day may bring. They have to be careful about everything they do such as what they eat and how not to overdo themselves if their active, travel in airplanes in which the cabins aren’t pressurized, exposure to extremes of heat or cold, or long work hours. All of the pressure of trying to understand a disease that doesn’t have a cure and live with it for the rest of your life puts a mental, emotional, and physical strain on the minds and bodies in these age groups. Having this disease is tough for everyone but it’s really hard on this age group because they older they are the harder it gets.

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