Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disorder in which the shape of red blood cells (red blood cells) changes. As a result, they lose their ability to carry oxygen. The body's immune system destroys sickle-shaped red blood cells, their loss leads to the development of anemia.
What is sickle cell anemia
An increased risk of this disease is present in Italians, Greeks, the population of some regions of India, the Arabian Peninsula, Central and South America, and blacks living in sub-Saharan Africa.
Hemoglobin is the main component of red blood cells (red blood cells). Normally, these cells are round in shape and easily move through the blood vessels. In sickle cell patients, hemoglobin is abnormal. It has low solubility, its electrophoretic mobility is slowed down. These pathological properties underlie the development of sickle cell anemia. As a result, red blood cells become hard, crescent-shaped and become stuck in small blood vessels. Their breakdown leads to clogging of blood vessels, a decrease in blood flow causes organ damage and severe pain. The body's immune system destroys sickle-shaped red blood cells faster than they can be produced. As a result, the person develops anemia. The likelihood of developing sickle cell anemia is increased with genetic disorders, for the appearance of the disease, the defective gene must be inherited from both parents.
How sickle cell anemia manifests itself
Sickle cell disease has a group of symptoms that are known as sickle cell crisis. It is characterized by pain attacks of varying severity and frequency. Crises can last from several hours to several days. Pain is observed in the bones of the back, long bones, chest. The attacks alternate with periods of remission. The risk of sickle cell crisis increases with physical activity that increases the body's oxygen demand.
During a crisis, hospitalization and the appointment of strong painkillers are required.
Before the impending sickle cell crisis, a person has the following symptoms: fever, anemia, jaundice, swelling, pain in the arms and legs, chest pain, occasional pain in the abdomen, joints, back, fatigue, shortness of breath, bloating, prolonged headache, sudden changes vision, loss of sensitivity. Severe anemia can cause shortness of breath, weakness, heart failure, loss of consciousness, shock.
Complications of sickle cell anemia include spleen decay, joint damage, severe bacterial infections (meningitis, pneumonia, kidney and bone infections), eye damage leading to visual impairment, seizures, stroke, heart murmurs, heart enlargement, liver disease, leg ulcers … In childhood and adolescence, sickle cell anemia can be mild. In women, there is a late onset of menstruation, premature birth, frequent spontaneous abortions, pregnancy is sometimes complicated by the development of heart failure, impaired cerebral circulation.