Sickle Cell Anemia Essay

1015 words - 5 pages

Sickle cell anemia primarily affects people with African, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Indian ancestry (Learn genetics, 2010; NHLBI, n.d.; Vorvick et al., 2010). Sickle cell anemia occurs when a person inherits two sickle cell gene, one from each parent, that cause the red blood cells to change and become crescent shaped. The underlying problem involves hemoglobin, a component of the red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues and returns carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs (Nabili, 2008, para. 1). In sickle cell anemia, the hemoglobin is flawed. As a result, the cells become sickle shaped and ...view middle of the document...

Normal red blood cells can live 120 days compared to sickle cells that only last 10 to 20 days, resulting in anemia. (Learn genetics, 2010 & Nabili, 2008)
Sickle cell anemia does not only have one primary cause, but also has a variety of symptoms. Sickle cell anemia has various symptoms that may vary upon every individual. All the symptoms that a person may experience are basically the direct result of the abnormal shaped blood cells. These cells deprive tissues of oxygen and in time the lack of oxygen to the tissues damages the organs and leads to pain. The intensity and duration of pain will depend on the activity of organs involved. (Shiel, 2006, para. 10) As shown in the article learn genetics (2008) many organs such as the spleen, liver, kidneys, lungs, heart and so on can be damage by the lack of oxygen (para. 4). Many articles state that the most common symptoms an individual can suffer from are fatigue and anemia, pain crises, bacterial infections, episodic pain in chest, abdomen and joints, poor eyesight, strokes and many more. If an individual experiences fatigue this is mainly because of the death of sickle cells. The bone marrow has to work harder in producing red blood cells to replace the dead ones and this causes the body to use more energy. Besides experiencing fatigue, an individual can experiences various painful episodes. Pain is cause by the lack of oxygen to the organs and the sickle cells that eventually block blood vessels due to their rigid and sickle shape. Infection is also another example of an individual’s symptoms. Because of the many organs that help the immune system fight infections such as the spleen, this results in a poor immune system and an individual may have many infections (MPlus, 2010; NHLBI, n.d; Shiel, 2006). “Because of these complications, people with this disorder are likely to have their life span reduced by about 30 years” (Learn genetics, 2010).
In addition, sickle cell anemia does not only have one primary cause, a variety of symptoms, but also...

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