Sickle cell anemia is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. People who it have an abnormal protein in their red blood cells. In the United States, most people with this disease are of African ancestry.
But the condition is also common in people with a Hispanic background. Because the disease runs in families, couples planning to have children should go for genetic testing.
Sickle Cell Anemia: Symptoms
If a person has sickle cell disease, it presents at birth. Problems start showing at about 5-6 months of age. All newborns in the United States receive screening for sickle cell disease.
. Early symptoms of sickle cell disease may include:
- A yellowish color of the skin, known as jaundice, or whites of the eyes.
- caused by anemia
- Painful swelling of the hands and feet
Transfusion is one way to treat and prevent certain sickle cell disease complications. These transfusions may include:
- Acute transfusion to treat complications that cause severe anemia. Doctors may also use transfusions when a patient has an acute stroke, in many cases of acute chest crises, and in multi-organ failure.
- Red blood cell transfusions increases the number of red blood cells and provides normal red blood cells
- Regular transfusions for people who have had an acute stroke, to reduce the chances of having another stroke.
Transplants is another treatment that is sometimes effective. Indeed, A blood and bone marrow transplant is currently the only cure for sickle cell disease. However due to potential complications, not everyone with the disease is eligible. Most patients are either are too old or do not have a relative who is a good enough genetic match to be a donor. A well-matched donor is needed for a patient to have the best chance for a successful transplant.
Several medical centers are researching new sickle cell disease blood and bone marrow transplant techniques for adults. These patients either do not have a matched donor in the family or their potential donor is too old.