Sickle cell disease
Sickle cell disease, or sickle cell anemia, is a common condition diagnosed in quite an impressive number of individuals. This actually is a form of anemia, the disease being best described by the lack of healthy blood cells. Blood cells have the important role of carrying adequate oxygen levels throughout the body. In normal conditions, red blood cells are flexible and round, having the ability to move easily throughout the blood vessels. When a patient develops sickle cell anemia, red blood cells tend to become rigid and consequently they are shaped like sickles.
Irregularly shaped cells can get stuck in small blood vessels. This way they can slow or block blood flow and oxygen to different parts of the body. Seeking medical help is highly important when developing sickle cell disease. However, you should know that unfortunately there is no treatment that is known to be able to cure this condition. There are various therapies that can relieve pain and decrease the frequency and severity of symptoms.
There are several signs and symptoms that may indicate a patient is suffering from sickle cell disease. They may include:
- Episodes of severe pain;
- Hand-foot syndrome;
- Frequent infections;
- Delayed growth;
- Vision problems;
- Abdominal swelling;
- Swelling in the hands or feet;
- Pale skin;
- Whites of the eyes;
- Any signs or symptoms of stroke.
Naturally, not all patients will experience all these symptoms, as they may vary from one case to another. No matter which of the aforementioned symptoms you experience, seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
Sickle cell anemia is actually determined by a gene mutation, so this is the main cause and risk factor of developing this condition.
As already mentioned, sickle cell anemia is a disease that unfortunately cannot be cured. However, there are a series of drugs and treatments that can be used to reduce pain. Bone marrow transplant is considered to be the only potential cure for the disease. Still, finding a donor can be extremely hard, in some cases being actually impossible. The procedure is extremely risky and the positive results cannot be guaranteed in any case.
Treatment for sickle cell anemia will most commonly include drugs that can relieve symptoms and prevent future complications. Some of the most common types of complications associated to this condition include stroke, skin ulcers, blindness, organ damage, pulmonary hypertension and acute chest syndrome.
Seeing a specialist regularly is highly important in keeping the disease under control. The doctor will monitor your health, indicating you the right medication treatment.
Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to prevent the development of this disease. Parents trying to conceive a child should see a genetic counselor to find out if there are any risks for the baby to inherit a genetic mutation. A specialist can recommend treatments and various therapies as measures to prevent inheriting the disease.
As you can see, sickle cell anemia is a very serious condition. Anyone can develop this disease, this is why future parents should be extremely careful. In case there are any sings that your health has been affected, you should seek medical help as soon as possible.