What Causes Sickle Cell Anemia?

What Causes Sickle Cell Anemia?What Causes Sickle Cell Anemia?

 

Do you know what causes sickle cell anemia? Among the different types of anemia, sickle cell anemia is not caused by a deficiency in iron, but rather by a genetic abnormality.

 

According to WebMD, sickle cell disease is caused by a genetic abnormality in the gene for hemoglobin, which results in the production of sickle hemoglobin. When oxygen is released from sickle hemoglobin, it sticks together and forms long rods, which damage and change the shape of the red blood cell. The sickle red blood cells causes the symptoms of sickle cell disease.

 

Children are born with sickle cell disease; it is not contagious. It occurs when a child inherits two sickle hemoglobin genes, one from each parent. About 2,000 babies are born with sickle cell disease each year in the United States. People who inherit only one sickle hemoglobin gene are carriers (sickle cell trait) and do not have anemia or painful sickle cell crises. About 2 million Americans have sickle cell trait.

 

Source: WebMD

 

So what is a sickle cell trait? According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, people who inherit a sickle hemoglobin gene from one parent and a normal gene from the other parent have sickle cell trait. Their bodies make both sickle hemoglobin and normal hemoglobin.

 

People who have sickle cell trait usually have few, if any, symptoms and lead normal lives. However, some people may have medical complications.

 

People who have sickle cell trait can pass the sickle hemoglobin gene to their children. The following image shows an example of an inheritance pattern for sickle cell trait.

 

Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

 

If you know of a family member who has sickle cell anemia, or that either of your parents have the genetic condition, it is best that you be aware of the symptoms of this type of anemia.

 

WebMD has provided the symptoms of sickle cell crisis, which include:

 

  • Severe pain
  • Anemia
  • Chest pain and difficulty breathing
  • Strokes
  • Joint pain and arthritis and bone infarctions
  • Blockage of blood flow in the spleen or liver
  • Severe infections

 

Patients with sickle cell disease develop severe pain in the chest, back, arms, legs, and abdomen. Pain can occur anywhere in the body. Sickle red blood cells in the lungs can cause severe illness with chest pain, fever, and difficulty breathing. Sickle cell disease can also cause permanent damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, and bones.  The severity and symptoms vary greatly from person to person, even within the same family.

 

Source: WebMD

 

It must be understood that what causes sickle cell anemia is genetic abnormality and it isn’t something that springs from bad habits. So be aware of the symptoms and just the same, make sure that you stay healthy.

 

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