Sickle Cell Anemia
What is Sickle Cell Anemia?
When hemoglobin of the type A becomes infected they turn into a kind of peculiar shape. This is the shape of a sickle and hence the name sickle cell anemia.
This is an inherited condition and can affect any age groups and any gender.
Our body consists of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets and many other constitutions. For the sake of this explanation we will take into consideration only the red blood cells. The red blood cells are mainly composed of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a carrier for oxygen in the blood. The normal life of hemoglobin is 120 days give or take ten days. The healthy hemoglobin is also a healthy round shape and is a rubbery / spongy substance. This type of hemoglobin is known as Hemoglobin A.
When a person is affected by sickle cell disease, the hemoglobin is the main component that is affected in the body. Further all complications results from this basic condition. The life of the hemoglobin is reduced to some 20 odd days. The infected hemoglobin is known as the hemoglobin S a short form for hemoglobin sickle. The affected hemoglobin turns a sickle shape. The peculiarity of this shape itself being, it does not flow easily through the veins. It starts clogging the veins. The clogged veins do not allow the good hemoglobin to flow through them also.
Thereby what happens is that that part of the body is cut off from a good supply of blood.This derives the part of the body from a good supply of blood basically, along with no nourishment of oxygen and other form of energy to maintain its well being. So ultimately it fails.
When a part of body looses blood it results in anemia. This is sickle anemia. The further effects are bouts of intense pain and a likely hood of other infections.
Sickle cell anemia can be life threatening if the bone marrow is not able to produce enough red blood cells as per the requirements of the body. The bone marrow is programmed to produce red blood cells as per the life cycle of the red blood cells that is 120 days. If the red blood cells die out before that then the bane marrow should be working over time to produce red blood cells. If it is not able to meet the requirements of the body, crises occur and the body breaks down. This particular crisis is known as the aplastic crises.
Repeated failures can result in damage to the bone, liver, lungs, kidneys and the central nervous system.
What makes the red blood cell become a sickle shape?
The infected hemoglobin of type hemoglobin S is called the bad hemoglobin. This hemoglobin infects the other hemoglobin cells and they in turn become bad. The good hemoglobin gets attached to the bad hemoglobin and this in turns causes the good hemoglobin to become bad. The bad hemoglobin has a rod shaped structure and this rod shaped structure traps the good hemoglobin.
The sickle hemoglobin takes on an abnormal shape and become hard. The attachment and infecting is prompted by low levels of oxygen, increased acidity or low volume of blood.
How do you get sickle cell?
Sickle cell disease cannot be spread by contact or infection. It can only be inherited from your parents. If both your parents have sickle cell disease, then there is an hundred percent chance that you will also suffer from it. If one of your parents is only a carrier and the other is an active suffer of the sickle disease, and then also you have a chance for inheriting this problem.
Sickle Cell Anemia Symptoms
The following are some of the symptoms of sickle cell disease. They are fatigue, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, delayed growth, jaundice, abdominal pains, fever, vomiting, and blood in the urine, penis pains, chest pains and a decreased fertility level.
Is Sickle Cell Found only in African Americans?
The percentage of African Americans affected by the sickle cell is more than the white Americans. But then the disease is not confined to a single race.
Can I be tested for Sickle Cell?
A simple blood test is all that calls for to check if you got the sickle cell disease. There are also specific tests to check if you are a carrier of the sickle cell disease.
Sickle Cell in the News
The United States of America considers September as National Sickle Cell Month.
Sickle Cell Statistics
The ratio of African Americans affected by sickle cell is for every 400 individuals there is one person affected by this problem.
World wide, the statistics stand at for every million there are eight persons affected by it.