Sickle Cell Anemia

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate May 2001

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Sickle Cell Anemia Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disorder of the blood. There are many specific conditions that can help trigger sickle cell anemia. The symptoms of this disease can appear during early childhood, or late adulthood. The treatments are numerous, but very different from one another. This is a genetic disorder, but can only be inherited by certain backgrounds.

To understand what sickle cell anemia is, one must first understand what the role red blood cells play in everyday life, and what hemogloben is. As many might already know, the red blood cells carry oxygen to every part of the body, because the body need oxygen to perform their duties. Within the capillaries, hemogloben exchanges oxygen for carbon dioxide in order for us to breath. Sickle cell anemia refers to defective hemogloben that is supposed to distribute oxygen. Normal, healthy adults have Hemogloben A. The "A" represents adult hemogloben.

People afflicted with anemia have Hemogloben S. The "S" represents sickle. Following the hemogloben's release of oxygen, it's molecules form hard crystals. These crystals tend to go to one side of the cell. When this happens, the other side of the cell collapses, forming what looks like a farmer's sickle. You may visualize the tool that farmers use when they cut wheat.

Unfortunately, these sickle cells stick together due to their surface. The chemicals on the surface of the cells creates the stickiness. They also tend to stick to the walls of the blood vessels. In the capillaries, where the hemogloben does it's job, these cells jam up, making it temporarily impossible for parts of the body to recieve oxygen. Without this oxygen those cells and tissues die and cause damage. These crisis are temporary. Although the painful crisis are temporary, this disease is not. Sickle cell anemia...