by Deborah Tan
The blood condition called sickle cell anemia is an inherited chronic disease. Basically, it starts taking place when red blood cells transform their shape from being disc like to sickle shaped. This causes impairment in their functioning, further affecting one's health.
The basic function of these cells is to transport oxygen to various body parts so that they get their required share in order to function smoothly. The round shape of these cells makes it easier for them to fit into, and pass through several vessels and passages in the body without any obstruction.
On the other hand, once sickle cell anemia occurs, the transformation in shape results in the cells not being able to pass through passages which are very narrow. As they are not able to travel to particular regions in the body, those places remain deprived of oxygen.
Moreover, body organs such as the heart, brain and kidneys which require constant blood flow, stop working properly and may cause a life threatening situation for the individual. This condition results in acute pain most of the time, and if the crisis seems to worsen, damage of the lungs or liver may also result.
The symptoms for sickle cell are various; however the individuals suffering from it may not experience them all at the same time. Moreover, some people may experience these symptoms in a mild form, while for others they may be so serious, that hospitalization of the sufferers may become necessary.
Even though the disease is present since the time of birth in an individual, its symptoms usually do not pop up before the baby has reached four months. Apart from pain which is the most common and frequently experienced symptom, people may also go through difficulty in breathing with ease, rapid heart rate, lethargy, dizziness, headaches and stomach pain, abdomen and chest.
Such a person's hands and feet become quite cold and the skin may turn out to be pale. The person might also experience blood while urinating, decreased fertility and pain in the penis.
Children who are suffering from sickle cell anemia may feel pain in the stomach, chest or bones as the blood vessels start clogging up. The degree and duration of pain may vary from one to another, as it may last a few minutes or may linger for several days.