The red blood cell becomes sickle shaped instead of round shaped usually resulting from genetics as a person inherits one abnormal gene from a parent. Sickle cell anemia is not contractible the only way to obtain the disease is by inheriting the abnormal cells. A normal blood cell that contains the oxygen carrying component hemoglobin is shaped like a doughnut. In case of Sickle cell anemia, the hemoglobin becomes abnormal causing blood cells to stack together producing a sticky collection of cells that blocks oxygen to organs and tissues. These cells clog the veins and arteries not allowing blood to flow properly. The oxygen in the blood is hampered and cannot supply enough to all tissues and organs in the body to keep it healthy.
Sickle cell anemia is higher in African Americans. Teenagers with sickle cell anemia reach puberty much later than those without the disease. Some children carry the gene but do not suffer from the disease and stay perfectly healthy during their lifetime. However, since they carry the abnormal gene their offspring are at high risk for getting the disease.
The life span of a healthy red blood cell is about 4 months but sickle cells die in about 20 days, which causes anemia and episodes of sickness and extreme pain. Oxygen starving tissues cause pain, which occurs in frequent bouts often resulting in hospitalization. The person may also experience problems breathing. Defective blood cells cause problems with the immune system, and due to clots and infection of the lungs, sickle cell anemia can causes acute chest syndrome. Many people who suffer from sickle cell anemia often have jaundice, which is due to a breakdown in the red blood cells. Intravenous fluids have to be administered in cases of acute pain and blood transfusions may be administered for more serious cases.
There is no cure for sickle cell anemia, however, death from the disease rarely occurs. There also Sickle cell anemia victims should be able to lead a relative healthy life by eating a balance diet, taking folic acid supplements, drinking water more often, avoiding extreme temperatures, avoiding alcohols, drugs and smoking. Regular exercise helps, although physical exertion is out of the question. Extensive or intense exercising is out of the question. Oral Antibiotics can also be administered and Hydroxyurea is the first medication prescribed for adults suffering from sickle cell anemia. Research has been research done to help prevent the defective cell and its ability to multiply. Some foods that may assist in helping those who suffer from sickle cell anemia are beets, brown rice, garlic, cabbage, kidney beans, lentils, legumes, mustard greens, onions, millet, sorghum and radishes.