Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle Cell Anemia Indications
Sickle Cell Anemia is a family of blood disorders arising from the abnormality of hemoglobin, in the red blood cells. Hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein assumes a sickle-like shape from 5-6 months of age leading to variety of health problems like pain, hand and feet swelling, infections etc.
10 indications/causes of Sickle Cell Anemia.
1. Fatigue and Anemia: When the Hemoglobin S has a sickle shape, they do not last long as the normal Hemoglobin cells. This results in a low blood count leading to excessive fatigue and anemia as a result. Fatigue may make you so tired that it may deter you from living the normal life. Sedentary lifestyles are prey to such fatigues and increase its effect. Fatigue can also extend towards dizziness and fast heartbeats. There is a risk that you might lose focus during work/studies or injure yourself in a sports activity. Such signs of fatigue is a clear sickle cell anemia trait.
2. Pain Crisis: The Haemoglobin cell being stiff instead of flexible (normal shape) don’t flow through the vessels with ease. Such blockages in the vessel pathway cause pain. Pain crisis is a phenomenon where you feel a sudden pain in one of the areas- arms/legs/chest and lasting for few to many hours. This chronic pain has periodic episodes and is a silent epidemic. It is often unrecognized but needs awareness to be diagnosed.
3. Swelling of hands/feet: Dactylitis, is when blood cells are blocked and as an offshoot, the hands and feet swell up. It is caused in early childhood and has the attributes of extreme swelling lasting up to a week.. Puffiness and tenderness combined with a refusal to bear weight and movement reduction are some of the symptoms and indications which need a visit to the doctor. This trait comes under lifestyle concerns of a sickle cell anemia patient.
4. Bacterial Infections: Early in life, people have the risk of developing infections in a blood vessel, meningitis and bone, and bloodstream infections. As the spleen does not function correctly, sickle cells create a barrier in the spleen leading to damage which in turn does not allow the production of antibodies.
5. Delayed Growth: Delay in the normal lifecycle or any inherent aberrations are a good indication of sickle cell anemia. It can be characterized by delayed growth, late puberty, dull complexion and shortness of breath.
6. Issues with Vision: When blood cells are blocked, flow is interrupted and this may lead to temporary blindness. Regular eye check-ups must be done to check the sign of snow blindness. A dilated eye test with a visit to the ophthalmologist can be used to understand the issues.
7. Stroke: 10% estimated children undergo a stroke when the blood vessel becomes blocked and the rest 20% are clinically diagnosed with a stroke after MRI scanning. Strokes might indicate temporary or permanent disability or learning problems.
8. Tissue Damage: Certain tissues and ligaments are damaged due to not receiving adequate blood supply. Inflammation or amelioration of tissues takes place and can be checked using fatigue caused as a result.
9. Chest Syndrome: This is akin to pneumonia and is a life-threatening condition. Blockage of blood vessels can lead to blockage of chests which must be continuously monitored. This is combined with respiratory symptoms and needs a chest X-ray.
10. Leg Ulcers: Leg Ulcers are a very good indication and is a common symptom. It afflicts patients from all socio-cultural backgrounds. Ulcers show up in the lower extremities and showcase a poor quality of life. It also leads to low functionality of the body part and a problem of morbidity.
Proper Healthcare Professional Engagement is required in all the stages of the lifecycle of a sickle cell anemia patient. The above 10 indications serve as guidelines to know the symptoms and treat them accordingly. Knowing the sickle cell anemia traits, helps the healthcare professional to channelize the treatment according to the patient profile.