Abstract Sickle cell anemia is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Normal red blood cells are round like doughnuts, and they move through small tubes in the body to deliver oxygen. Sickle red blood cells become hard, sticky and shaped like sickles used to cut wheat. When these hard and pointed red cells go through the small blood tube, they clog the flow and break apart. This can cause pain, damage, or low blood count, or anemia.
The red cell sickle is made from a substance in the red cell called hemoglobin that carries oxygen into the cell. One little change in this substance causes the hemoglobin to form long rods in the red cell when it gives away oxygen. These ridged rods change the red cell into a sickle shape. You can only get sickle cell anemia from inheriting it from both parents who are carries of the disease.
You can not catch it and it is not air borne. You are born with the sickle cell hemoglobin and it is present for life. It is common with African Americans but it is also in other nationalities such as Arabs, Greeks, Italians, Latin Americans, and Native Americans. All races should be screened for this hemoglobin at birth though (www.bigchalk.com).
Sickle cell anemia produces a chronic anemia which may become life- threatening when hemolytic crises, which is the breakdown of red blood cells, or aplastic crises, which is when bone marrow fails to produce blood cells, occur. Repeated crises can lead to damage of the kidneys, lungs, bone, liver, and central nervous system. Acute painful episodes caused by blocked blood vessels and damaged organs may occur and last hours to days affecting the bones of the back, the long bones, and the chest. Although...