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Sickle Cell Anemia Essay

1026 words - 5 pages

Sickle cell anemia is a disease in which the body’s red blood cells become misshapen.
The red blood cells, which are normally round with a small indentation in the middle, become hard and crescent-shaped. They can’t fit through the small blood vessels and get stuck in the capillaries and block the blood flow. Oxygenated blood cannot get to the tissues, and this causes severe pain and in some cases, death of the tissues. Prolonged oxygen deprivation can even cause death, depending on the tissue affected, and many victims of sickle cell anemia have a shorter lifespan than people with normal blood cells.

Although sickle cell anemia as many symptoms, the most common sign of the disease ...view middle of the document...

Acute chest syndrome is the number one killer of sickle cell anemia patients. This is when the tissues of the lungs and chest are deprived of oxygen in a crisis. The tissues begin to die, which can potentially kill the patient if not treated properly. Some cases of acute chest syndrome can result from treating a sickle cell crisis. Use of some medications or overuse of intravenous fluids can trigger acute chest syndrome. The treatments of sickle cell anemia vary. Mild pain caused by the disease can be treated at home using over-the-counter medications such as Motrin (ibuprofen). Treatment for severe, sudden pain is usually treated in a clinic, emergency room, or hospital. Oxygen may be provided if the body’s oxygen levels are low, otherwise the patient is given pain medication and fluids. Patients who have chronic pain from sickle cell anemia can take a type of medication called hydroxyurea, which makes the body produce fetal hemoglobin. A complication of hydroxyurea is a decrease in the amount of white blood cells in the body, which makes the patient more prone to infections. Another treatment of sickle cell anemia is blood transfusions. Some patients receive blood transfusions frequently; others receive them only once or only a few times. A complication of this is a buildup of iron in the blood or an allergic reaction. Some people who do not show signs of sickle cell anemia or have symptoms of the disease may be carriers. These people have only one copy of the gene needed to give a person sickle cell anemia. The gene is recessive but can be passed to offspring. If a carrier mates with another carrier, their children will have the sickle cell anemia disease. A carrier can pass one copy of the gene to their offspring if they mate with a person who is not a carrier of sickle cell anemia. More than two million Americans have the sickle cell trait, and one in twelve African Americans have the gene. Gene therapy is currently being tested as a treatment for sickle cell anemia. This involves putting normal genes into the bone marrow of a person...

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