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Sickle Cell Anemia

Learning About Sickle Cell Anemia

A form of anemia, sickle cell anemia is a disease specific to people who have already identified two sickle cell traits, or genes, in their red blood cells. Usually, red blood cells are round and flexible, allowing them to easily flow through the blood. Sickle cells are crescent shape, and can be very fragile. Because of this, sickle cells usually only like 15 to 20 days in the body. Compare this to a normal blood cell that might live up to 120 days. The short life span of sickle cells can cause increased toxicity in the blood, but can also make it difficult for vital organs in the body to receive the oxygen they need. Often, sickle cell anemia is a serious condition that results in ongoing illness and fatigue.

People may experience increased fatigue, become more prone to illness, experience blurred vision, or have episodes of pain, particularly in the hands or feet. This condition is normally diagnosed in infancy, but if you are experiencing the above symptoms, it might be time to see a doctor. For a person to have sickle cell disease, and thus sickle cell anemia, both the mother and father must carry the sickle cell gene. This is one of the reasons why learning about sickle cell anemia is so important to families that may be at risk. Various medications can help manage anemia but there is no real cure through medication. The only documented way to potentially cure sickle cell anemia is a bone marrow transplant, also known as a stem cell transplant.