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Sickle Cell

Sickle cell anemia is a chronic disease in which the red blood cells loose their disc-shape and become crescent. As a result of this change in shape, they function abnormally and break down, causing reoccurring painful episodes.
An abnormal type of hemoglobin called "hemoglobin S" causes sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell anemia can only be inherited when both parents have the "hemoglobin S" gene. Sickle cell affects eight out of 100,000 people. However, it is more common in certain ethnic backgrounds. The disease affects one out of every 600 African Americans and one out of 1,000 to 1,400 Hispanic Americans.
Sickle cell anemia may become life threatening when damaged blood cells break down or bone marrow fails to produce blood cells. These affects can cause damage to the kidneys, lungs, bone, liver, and even the central nervous system. Blocked blood vessels and damaged organs can cause acute painful episodes. These painful symptoms, which occur in 70% of patients, can last hours to days, affecting the bones in the back and chest. Some sufferers may have one episode every few years, while others may have many per year. The symptoms can even be severe enough to require admission to the hospital for pain control.
People with Sickle cell anemia may have delayed growth and puberty, have ulcers in the lower legs during both adolescents and adulthood, and
Not all symptoms of Sickle cell anemia are so threatening. Other symptoms include fatigue, breathlessness, rapid heart rate, fever and vomiting, poor eyesight and decreased fertility.
There is currently no cure for this disease. During a crisis, bed rest is recommended to reduce the use of energy and oxygen needs. Transfusions of Folic acid, essential in producing cells, are required because of rapid blood cell turnover. Acute painful episodes are treated with analgesics and adequate liquid intake. Sometimes the spleen become damaged from these "aberrant&…

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