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Sickle Cell Anemia Essay, Research Paper

How is the disease inherited?

Sickle-cell anaemia happens when an individual inherits a sickle-cell gene from each parent. The sickle-cell trait is someone who carries one sickle haemoglobin producing gene, inherited from their parents and one normal hemoglobin gene. The gene is found to be recessive and autosomal as the gene can be found in both parents.

Haemoglobin helps blood carry needed nutrients to cells and moves their waste products to the excretory organs. Haemoglobin also carries oxygen from the lungs, where blood gets the needed oxygen, to body cells. It is a protein that is only found in red blood cells. To mix properly with oxygen, the red blood cells must contain enough haemoglobin. This determines the amount of iron in the body. A lack of iron results in anemia.

Carriers of the disease have a one-in-four chance of having a child who has the disease.

It is estimated that one in four African-Americans have the disease. It is also common in Arabs, Greeks, Italians, Latin Americans and Native Americans. All races should be screened for Haemoglobin at birth.

What are the symptoms of the disease?

Symptoms of sickle-cell anemia usually occur at about six months of age. The most common symptoms are:

*Enlargement of the abdomen

*Enlargement of the heart

* Swelling of the hands and feet, which is often painful

*Sexual-maturation in adolescence may be slow or delayed

*Infections and leg ulcers

All of these symptoms occur because the lessened amount of haemoglobin in the blood results in the amount of oxygen in the blood. Any change of the amount of oxygen in the blood makes the haemoglobin change shape. The red blood cell that contains the haemoglobin also changes shape from being round, to being crescent shaped, or sickle shaped. The sickle-shaped cells interfere with the normal blood flow by blocking up small blood vessels.

How is the disease managed?

Treatment for sickle-cell anemia is mainly relief of symptoms.

In affected children under the age of four months preventative penicillin is given to help fight infections that can kill infants. This greatly reduces the infant mortality rate for affected babies.

All of the childhood immunisations should be given plus the pneumococcal vaccine. It is important for parents to know how to check for fever. A fever requires quick medical attention.

The following things are recommended to keep someone with the disease healthy:

? Taking vitamin folic acid daily to help make new red blood cells.

? Drinking plenty of water, about 8-10 daily glasses for adults.

? Avoiding temperatures that are too hot or too cold

? Plenty of rest

? Avoiding stress and over activity.

? Regular check-ups.

The following symptoms in sickle-cell people are serious and would require medical attention:

? Fever

? Chest pain

? Increasing tiredness

? Swelling of the abdomen

? Shortness of breath

? Unusual headache

? Weakness or loss of feeling

? Unusual pain

? Painful erections that wont go down

? Eye problems

Many sufferers of sickle cell are victims of extreme pain. Sufferers and their families often refer to these painful episodes and ?crises?. These episodes involve pain that occurs unpredictably in any body organ or joint. This is because sickle blood cells block oxygen flow to the tissues. The occurrence and amount of pain varies. Some sufferers have painful episodes less than once a year, but others may have as many as 15 or even more episodes a year. Depending on the person, the pain lasts only a few hours, or sometimes it lasts several weeks. For severe, lasting pain, the sufferer may be to be hospitalized and treated with painkillers and intravenous fluids to relive the pain. People with sickle cell anaemia have a varying life expectancy, as everyone?s case is different. It is rare for the person to live past 50 years, because of the complications involved and the strain on the organs.

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