The misshapen blood cells that are formed as a result of sickle cell disease can cause multiple problems and patients show many symptoms as a result. The majority of the symptoms are caused by the blockages that can form in the blood vessels of the patients. Due to the irregular shape of the red blood cells, they cannot easily flow through the blood vessels in a linear formation like regular red blood cells, but instead they can clump together and form clots, constricting blood flow and oxygen supply.
Symptoms of sickle cell disease include: irregular blood pressure, jaundice skin or eyes, pale skin, bone or joint pain, delayed growth, skin ulcers (common on the legs), anemia, constant headaches, dizziness, fatigue, organ or tissue damage, pulmonary hypertension, shortness of breath, numbness in the extremities, and stroke. Sickle cell disease is known to be extremely painful in many instances due to the damage of the blood vessels and organs in a patients body. Complications Sickle cell disease is extremely detrimental to ones body, and due to the complications involved with the disease, it can become deadly.
Many suffering from sickle cell disease are susceptible to strokes caused by arterial blockages near the brain, this is one of the deadlier complications involved with the disease. Patients can also develop acute chest syndrome (ACS) from blockages in the lungs. From the high blood pressure caused by the arterial blockages in the lungs, patients are commonly known to develop Pulmonary Hypertension as well. Due to blood clots and lack of oxygen, organs in patients with sickle cell disease commonly receive damage, which can cause these organs to malfunction.
This can become especially life threatening when it occurs in the bodys vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, or brain. Blindness can also occur in those with sickle cell disease due to decreased blood flow to the eyes. Skin ulcers are common in patients with the disease. This is especially dangerous because ulcers are open wounds that cause the body to become extremely susceptible to infection and disease. Priapism can become prevalent in males with sickle cell anemia, due to the decreased amount of blood flow from the scrotum area that clots can cause.
Treatment The standard of treatment with sickle cell disease has increased exponentially in the last few decades due to the latest medical advances. Yet, sadly, the goal of sickle cell disease treatment is to treat the symptoms so that they become less prevalent, because no cure for the disease has been developed. Although, hematologists are conducting promising research involving the disease. For example, bone marrow transplants are becoming increasingly effective in treating patients with sickle cell disease, with the success rate of transplants steadily climbing.
Blood transfusions are becoming a biweekly occurrence for those suffering from the disease in an attempt to increase the level of normal red blood cells in a patients blood stream, preventing the worsening of said patients anemia. Common medications used to treat the symptoms of sickle cell anemia include: antibiotics (for treating infection), NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, for pain), opioids (for pain), and hydroxyurea (for pain). Nitric oxide has begun to show promise as a treatment for blood clots in the eyes of many hematologists.
Nitric oxide has been shown to temporarily expand blood vessels, acting as an anticlotting agent, potentially preventing the major symptoms caused by sickle cell disease, but the administering of nitric oxide is still relatively new. Gene therapy research is accepted as an eventual cure for sickle cell disease and many inherited diseases, yet we currently lack the technology to manipulate genes in the specific manner desired. Prognosis Currently the average life expectancy for people with sickle cell disease is much higher than in the past, with many patients living well into their 50s and older.
Statistically, females with sickle cell disease live longer than their male counterparts. Sickle cell patients will inevitably experience pain as a result of the disease, and most suffer from small blockages in the arteries that are known to cause strokes and various other symptoms that are previously mentioned. Acute chest syndrome is also common in those with sickle cell disease. Ultimately, Sickle cell disease is harsh and constant, but the number of treatments and their levels of success are ever increasing. Sources Used United States. Department of Health and Human Services.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH). NHLBI, NIH. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 28 Sept. 2012. Web. 04 Apr. 2013. Sickle Cell Information Center. Sickle Cell Disease Sickle Cell Information Center. Sickle Cell Disease Sickle Cell Information Center. Sickle Cell Information Center, 28 Apr. 2010. Web. 04 Apr. 2013. Staff, Mayo Clinic. Definition. Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 26 Mar. 2011. Web. 04 Apr. 2013. Bownas, Jennifer. Sickle Cell Anemia Disease Profile. Sickle Cell Anemia Disease Profile. Ornl. gov, 5 May 2005. Web. 04 Apr. 2013.