What are the Causes and Symptoms of Sickle Cell Anemia?
Anaemia is a disease where the blood cells that transport oxygen throughout the body are not formed in a proper manner. To that end, there are several variants of this disease, each having a different reason. The sickly celled anemia is an ailment where the cells are just wrongly shaped (sickle-shaped). This shape makes it difficult for them to hold on to oxygen and Transport it across the body.
Sickle Cell Anemia causes
The underlying cause of this type of anemia is the mutation of the genes that produce iron. These iron producing genes are responsible for the coloration of red blood cells. If the gene is mutated, abnormal hemoglobin is created. Consequently, the red blood cells produced have the wrong shape to be able to carry oxygen to the rest of the body.
However, the reason for this mutation is hereditary. That being said, this mutated gene can only be inherited if both the parents (mother and the father) pass on the defective gene to their offspring. However, if only one of the parents passes the genes, sickle cell trait is developed in some of the blood cells. It means that the child would have both the healthy blood cells and sickled blood cells. However, partial inheritance does not cause any symptoms.
Symptoms of Sickle Cell Anaemia
The symptoms of this ailment are as follows:
- Anemia: As the sickle cells are basically malformed red blood cells, they can die pretty easily. Consequently, the body isn’t left with many blood cells, causing anemic symptoms.
- Painful episodes: There are periodic painful episodes that happen, these episodes are called a crisis. This happens when the sickle cells end up flowing through the blood vessels and into the joints, lungs or chest.
- Painful sweats on hands and on feet: As the cells are wrongly shaped, the blood flow is blocked and accumulated on the hands and feet.
- Vulnerability to infection: Sickle cells end up damaging the spleen; which is the organ that helps prevent infections in the body. To that end, a person with sickle cell anemia is more vulnerable to disease.
- Problems with a vision: As the cells end up passing through the blood vessels, some of them end up getting plugged inside the eyes, causing retinal damage and consequently, causing problems with vision.
- Slow growth in children: If there is no proper flow of oxygen or nutrients throughout the body of the child, the growth decelerates. Consequently, it is seen that the growth is slower in teenagers and infants.