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What are the symptoms of sickle cell anemia?

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Swollen hands and feet; episodes of intense pain in the chest, abdomen, joints or bones; and frequent infections are some of the leading symptoms of sickle cell anemia, according to the Mayo Clinic. Because the disease causes the body to have a shortage of red blood cells, it is also characterized by chronic fatigue. In infants, children and teenagers, sickle cell anemia can cause delayed growth and puberty.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, sickle cell anemia also causes vision problems on account of the small blood vessels that supply blood to the eyes becoming blocked with sickle cells. Other symptoms include pale skin or nail beds, a yellowish tint to the whites of the eyes or skin, fever or signs of stroke such as numbness or paralysis in the face, arms or legs. Typically sickle cell anemia is diagnosed in infancy. However, if any of these symptoms appear suddenly, a doctor should be visited to determine the cause.

Caused by a genetic mutation, sickle cell anemia creates red blood cells that are rigid, misshapen and sticky, according to the Mayo Clinic. Passed from generation to generation, sickle cell anemia is a recessive gene, meaning that both parents must have the gene for a child to be affected.

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