Sickle Cell Anemia Essay

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Sickle Cell Anemia Every year Sickle Cell Anemia claims 501 lives and affects 72,000 others. Some may ask "What is Sickle Cell Anemia?" It derived from Ancient Greek meaning "lack of blood". It is a disease passed down through families, in which hemoglobin and developed red blood cells become irregularly shaped like crescents or sickles. In addition, having this type of anemia causes the red blood cells (RBCs) to become hard and pointed. Since hemoglobin (found inside RBCs) normally carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues, anemia leads to hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in organs. As a result, the RBCs function abnormally causing small blood clots, and can get stuck in the blood vessels. When this occurs, circulation in the blood flow is blocked. Symptoms usually don't occur until 4 months of age. Patients with this Sickle Cell Disease have painful episodes also known as crises, which can last from hours to days depending on the severity. These crises can affect the back bone, the long bones, and the chest. Some patients have one episode every few years, while others have many episodes per year. The crises can be so intolerable and devastating enough to require hospital stay. Common symptoms of SCA include, but are not limited to: attacks of abdominal pain, bone pain, breathlessness, fatigue, fever, paleness, rapid heart rate, and ulcers on the lower legs. Less common signs are chest pains, frequent urination, painful/increased erections, poor eyesight, etc. Patients with Sickle Cell Disease need ongoing treatment, even when they are not having agonizing crises. They should take folic acid (vital for producing RBC) because red blood cells alter quickly. The purpose of treatment is to manage and control symptoms, and to limit the number of crises that occur. During crises episodes, patients are treated with pain medicines and by

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