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What is sickle cell anemia?

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Quick Answer

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder in which there are insufficient normal red blood cells needed to transport enough oxygen in the body, says Mayo Clinic. In this condition, the red blood cells lose their normal flexibility and round shape, becoming rigid and sickle-like, thus disrupting blood flow.

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What is sickle cell anemia?
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Full Answer

People get sickle cell anemia through autosomal recessive inheritance, where both parents must carry a sickle cell gene for the offspring to inherit the disorder, according to Mayo Clinic. Typically, sickle cell anemia does not cause any symptoms to people who inherit a sickle cell gene from one of their parents. This is because such people have normal hemoglobin and sickle cell hemoglobin, hence they are mere carriers of sickle cell anemia. However, the carriers of sickle cell anemia have the potential to pass the disease to their offspring.

The symptoms of sickle cell anemia include anemia, slowed growth and pain episodes in areas such as the chest, abdomen, joints and bones, notes Mayo Clinic. Sickle cell anemia sufferers may also develop complications such as stroke due to disrupted blood flow into the brain; pulmonary hypertension; and blindness. However, sickle cell anemia rarely causes any symptoms for children who are below 4 months old.

The treatments of sickle cell anemia include bone marrow transplant, blood transfusion and medications including antibiotics and pain relievers, reports Mayo Clinic. Despite being a risky procedure, bone marrow transplant is the only effective remedy for sickle cell anemia.

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