Over 5% of the world’s population carries trait genes for haemoglobin disorders especially thalassaemia and sickle-cell disease. World Sickle Cell Day was first celebrated on 19th June 2009 to increase awareness of the disease and its cure among the public. The day brings about active participation of various government and non-governmental organizations, health funding agencies and other health organizations.
This year, we focus on some of the health conditions that can be brought about by Sickle Cell disease.
Health Complications Caused by Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited disorders of the red blood cells (RBCs) that affect the haemoglobin in the RBCs. Haemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen throughout the body. They become stiff rods within the RBCs causing the red blood cells to be crescent shaped and not easy to change shape due to lack of flexibility causing most of them to burst apart as they move through the blood, and instead of lasting for between 90 to 120 days, these sickle cells last for 10 to 20 days. The body may be unable to produce enough red blood cells which can lead to anaemia.
Sickle cells can stick to the walls of the blood vessels causing a blockage which, in turn, slows or stops blood flow and preventing oxygen from reaching nearby tissues. Some of the complications that this disease can cause are:
This happens when sickle cells die fast, and the body cannot replace them as fast as they die. That makes it difficult for the cells to get oxygen causing fatigue, dizziness and weakness, among other symptoms. Children who have anaemia can have difficulty growing. One way that severe anaemia can be treated is through a blood transfusion after which the patient might need their iron levels controlled.
- Acute Chest Syndrome
This is one of the most serious complication that people with sickle cell disease can have. It occurs when sickle cells block blood flow in the lungs which can bring about symptoms like chest pain, cough, trouble breathing and fever. If you or your child experiences this problem, seek medical attention immediately.
SCD damages the spleen, an organ that helps the body fight against bacteria in the blood and therefore, children with this disease are more likely to suffer from infections. Ensure you or your child get treatment early before the infection gets serious.
- Splenic Sequestration
It occurs when blood flow through the spleen is blocked by sickled cells causing the spleen to swell. Apart from pain, other possible symptoms include pale skin, fast heartbeat and feeling weak.
Other complications that may arise due to sickle cell disease include:
1. Avascular necrosis which occurs when bone tissue dies as a result of blocked blood flow to major joints. Some people may need surgery; however, pain medication can be helpful.
2. Blood clots and stroke are other complications that can come up due to the blockage in blood flow caused by sickle cells.
3. Other organs that can be affected are the eyes, kidney, liver and heart.
Bone Marrow Transplant for Sickle Cell Disease
Bone marrow transplant replaces the cells that create sickle-shaped red blood cells with healthy cells. Before donation, the donor’s tissues must be examined to ensure they match with the recipient’s. The transplant can be risky for patients who have heart or kidney problems.
International Medical Treatment Ltd (IMT) can help you plan for a bone marrow transplant to treat sickle cell disease for yourself or your loved one. Get in touch with us today and learn more.
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