What are the symptoms of sickle cell disease?

What are the symptoms of sickle cell disease?
What are the symptoms of sickle cell disease?

In normal form, red blood cells are flexible and round which can easily pass through the blood vessels. But in a sickle cell disease, the RBCs become sticky or rigid just like a sickle. This irregularity inshore causes the cells to get stuck in the vessels causing pain and obstructing blood flow and causing deoxygenation in several organs of the body.

There is no firm cure to delay with sickle cell disease. Although, treatment can help to minimize pain and relieve symptoms.

What are the major signs to look for a sickle cell disease in a person?

Following are a few signs and symptoms of the disease:

•   Pain episodes: Sickle cell crises causes pain in legs, joints, chest etc. Swelling might appear because of blood flow obstruction.

•   Anemia: Sickle cell has a short life cycle of 10 to 20 days in comparison to the normal cells which have 120 days of the cycle. So this leads to lesser blood cells and hence makes a person anemic.

   Infections: SCD makes a person very prone to liver and spleen infections. Children are vaccinated to protect against pneumonia etc.

•   Vision troubles: Since the blood supply gets affected due to sickle cell obstructing the vessels. This may cause retina damage and vision issues.

What are the recent treatment options for sickle cell disease?

1). Bone marrow transplant:

This is the best procedure to cure SCD but it has its own risks and it is not suitable for every patient. BMT is mainly advisable for young patients below 18 years of age. But finding a matching donor is a hurdle in this process. Your doctor can suggest you best if your child or relative is suitable for BMT or not. This treatment procedure might not be affordable for every patient although India provides BMT at economic prices.

2). Gene therapy:

Several types of research are still ongoing to see if the defected gene can be replaced with a normal gene. This can help the body to make normal red blood cells.

3). New medications:

New drugs are being designed and synthesized as per the requirement. The main goal of these drugs is to prevent the sickle cell from sticking with the walls of vessels or interfere in sickle cell formation or increase hemoglobin levels etc. Each drug has its own specific task and accordingly as per the patient’s need it can be given. It might take some time for these drugs to be readily available.


Related FAQs:

1) Q: What are the complications expected along with sickle cell disease?

A: Several complications might arise along with sickle cell disease. Some of them are listed below:

•   Diseases like gallstones, stroke, eye damage, leg ulcers which do not heal, lung crises, and pulmonary hypertension etc.

•   Regular blood transfusions might lead to iron accumulation or overload in the body. Most of the patients receive occasional transfusions but stroke and acute chest syndrome patients might require monthly transfusions and hence chances of iron accumulation increases. But Hydroxyurea treatment can further help in reducing transfusion need.


2) Q: When should one expect to observe symptoms of sickle cell disease?

A: Sickle cell disease symptoms usually do not appear until 4 months of age after the baby is born. But symptoms once appear includes painful crises which cause pain in legs, joints, lower back, and chest.


3) Q: What happens to the hemoglobin in sickle cell disease?

A: Hemoglobin is present in the red blood cells. But in sickle cell disease the presence of hemoglobin S makes it C-shape or crescent-shaped. Sickle cell disease is normally has a link with a shorter span of life than normal. However, currently with the available treatment options for SCD makes the survival rate for the patients better than before.

What is Sickle Cell Anemia? How is it treated?

What is sickle cell anemia? How is it treated?
What is sickle cell anemia? How is it treated?

Sickle cell anemia treatment is required in such patients who experience from the severe form of this condition. In normal condition hemoglobin present in our blood is responsible for carrying oxygen and further distribution of it in the whole body. However, in sickle cell anemia, the hemoglobin is defectively obtaining an s-shaped and lacking oxygen carrying capacity. Which creates a situation of deoxygenation in the body and might lead to severe or fatal conditions.


How can Sickle Cell Anemia be diagnosed?

A blood test can easily help in the diagnosis of sickle cell anemia. A screening for hemoglobin S is done of the collected blood sample. If the test comes out to be negative then there is no sickle cell gene present and if it is positive then the gene is present. Further additional tests for evaluation of the severity of the condition is done like to check for a low blood cell count or anemic condition etc. These tests help in preparing and preventing complications which can later turn out to be fatal. A proper diagnosis at the early stages can only help in getting the best sickle cell anemia treatment.

Sickle cell genes can also be tested during pregnancy by sampling amniotic fluid. Further, a genetic counselor can also be recommended to understand the better chances and risks for your baby.


Is there any treatment for Sickle Cell Anemia?

Sickle cell anemia treatment has options like blood transfusions which can increase red blood cell count for time being to relieve anemia symptoms. But transfusion causes iron overload and build high risks of stroke as well.

A bone marrow transplant is another effective sickle cell anemia treatment option which is readily used these days. It involves the replacement of defective or damaged bone marrow with the new healthy bone marrow obtained from the patient or a donor. A completely matching donor is hard to find but if found can make things easier and reduces complication chances as well for the patient. The complications are less in people of 16 years of age and younger after that serious risks like death is involved in most of the cases.

Sickle cell anemia treatment is very important since it helps to prevent any crisis and complications. Especially babies with 2 years of age and younger must be taken to the doctor frequently for a routine checkup during sickle cell anemia treatment, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sickle cell anemia treatment options include medications to reduce pain, and blood transfusions, and mainly a bone marrow transplant to prevent further complications.  


Some of the medications which are used in sickle cell anemia treatment include:

•   Pain-Relievers: These prescribed medications helps in relieving pain during sickle cell crisis. Your doctor can suggest a medicine suitable as per your level of pain.

•   Antibiotics: Children of 2 months of age are put on antibiotics like penicillin until they reach 5 years of age. This helps during sickle cell anemia treatment to prevent life-threatening infections like pneumonia for a sickle cell patient.

•   Hydroxyurea: This medicine if taken daily reduces the chances of crisis as well as blood transfusions and frequent hospitalizations. It triggers the production of fetal hemoglobin which is found in newborns and prevents sickle cell formation.


Related FAQs:

1) Q: Can sickle cell make life more difficult?

A: Yes, it does make life more on the edge of difficult mainly for a child who needs to understand several things. It can cause stunted growth with delayed sexual maturity. Avoiding things which can cause the crisis is another hurdle, being more careful with medicine, strenuous exercise, and high altitude is a must for sickle cell anemia people. Seeking for sickle cell anemia treatment is another must for such patients with this disease.


2) Q: Can sickle cell anemia lead to a fatal condition of organ failure in severe cases?

A: Yes, due to chronic deprivation of oxygen blood might cause damage to the nerves and organs like kidneys, spleen, and liver. Hence sickle cell anemia treatment must be looked for.


3) Q: Which is the best sickle cell anemia treatment option?

A: Stem cell transplant or the bone marrow transplant is the best way to for sickle cell anemia treatment. It helps in avoiding crises, preventing complications, and relieving symptoms.

Sickle Cell treatment for Africa’s Patients

Sickle cell treatment for Africa's Patients
Sickle cell treatment for Africa's Patients

Sickle cell disease is a hereditary condition in which there are inadequate healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen for the entire body. In a healthy person, red blood cells are round and very flexible which can move and squeeze through blood vessels of the entire body. However, in any sickle cell patient, these red blood cells turn very sticky and rigid since it turns into a sickle or crescent moon shape. This irregular structure of the cells restricts its movement across the blood vessels of the body, finally, it blocks the blood flow as well as oxygen supply to the whole body.

So there arises a need for sick cell treatment in order to fix the situation as well as its symptoms. 

Why a majority of Africa’s patients looking for Sickle Cell treatment in India?

Majority of the worldwide cases of sickle cell are from the region of sub-Saharan Africa. Hence, more of Africa’s patients are in need of treatment. The mortality rate is also high due to the lack of treatment options there. It is a very challenging situation especially for the newborns as most of them turn into Africa’s patients with SCD. The reason is an inheritance of sickle cell mutated genes in the African population.

Every year several of Africa’s patients reach India in need of sickle cell treatment and in the past few years, India has turned into a hub for economic and effective medical treatments. Most of Africa’s patients get inclined towards India for sickle cell treatment because the price of treatment is comparatively cheaper than offered by other countries, as well as effective with high success rates.


How bone marrow transplantation is an effective Sickle Cell treatment?

Indian hospitals are equipped with both experienced professionals as well as equipment which are required for the sickle cell treatment. So more and more of Africa’s patients are reaching out to India for bone marrow transplantation (BMT) to get the only available sickle cell treatment. BMT is highly effective in several other blood disorders like thalassemia etc. Sickle cell treatment with BMT restores the quality of life of the patient.

During this procedure of BMT involves replacing damaged or impaired stem cell with the healthy ones obtained from the donor or the patient himself. Depending upon the severity and condition of Africa’s patients during sickle cell treatment your physician will be able to suggest you the best possible option of BMT.

The success of the sickle cell treatment depends directly on the donor stem cells how closer HLA-match it possesses and how the body reacts towards it, accepts it or rejects it. The treatment provides a good survival of life to Africa’s patients unless any complications arise.


Related FAQs:

1) Q: Why is sickle cell disease so common in Africa? How is it caused?

A: In Africa, the majority of the population experience from SCD. It is mainly caused by mutation of the β hemoglobin gene which further causes sickle cell formation of the hemoglobin. Also, in people who are sickle cell disease carriers with just a single gene of sickle cell are immune against malaria, which turns out to be an advantage.


2) Q: Can SCD get cured on its own without sickle cell treatment?

A: No, it is such type of anemia which cannot go away on its own. So, it is important to for a baby or adult to seek medical help for sickle cell.


Q: What are the symptoms to look for sickle cell disease (SCD)?

A: Some of the symptoms of SCD include severe pain episodes of bones, joints, chest; fever; abdominal swelling; yellowing of the skin, nails, eyes; and even sudden stroke symptoms.