- Fatigue and breathlessness are common symptoms of sickle cell anaemia
- Urinary tract and bladder infections must be monitored
- Extreme cases may also face an outbreak of jaundice
19th June is earmarked as the World Sickle Cell Day. This is done to raise awareness about this rare but public health problem, as the UN adopted a resolution to recognise this disease as one of the world's foremost genetic disorders. This year, we celebrate 40 years of support for the sickle community and 11 years since the UN passed the resolution. When there is a reduction in haemoglobin levels in your body, the red blood cells tend to suffer. Extremely low levels even cause them to break down and lose shape. This is what happens when someone is diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anaemia. This disease brings a lot of complications with it, and most babies born with this condition, don't live past 5 years of age.
The signs and symptoms of this disease are as follows:
1. Loss of red blood cells: Characteristic of sickle cell anaemia, the red blood cells lose their round disk like shape, to become a lot more like sickles due to a lack of haemoglobin in the body. Not only does this make the cells weaker, but it also makes them less flexible and stiffer. This reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.
2. Random pains: The pains occurring in different parts of the body often become unpredictable. This is due to the blood vessels getting blocked and a lack of oxygen in that part of the body. If the body isn't able to harness all the oxygen it needs, it will prioritise, and certain parts of the body will not get sufficient oxygen. This causes acute pains.
3. Fatigue and breathlessness: It is extremely common for those suffering from sickle cell anaemia to experience extreme tiredness, weakness and an overall lack of energy. This is primarily due to the lack of oxygen supply to the body to break down for energy.
4. Jaundice: The white of the eyes, and the skin turns yellowish. This is because, a sickle cell dies far quicker and faster than a regular cell. As the liver attempts to break down the dead cells, a byproduct called Bilirubin builds up, causing the yellow colour.
5. Urinary problems: Infections are common among patients of this disease. They may face trouble in the production of urine (concentrated or dilute) and there have been several instances of blood in the urine as well. The bladder and urinary tract must be regularly tested for the breeding of infections.
6. Inflammation: As blood vessels get blocked, either by dead sickle cells, or just an overall lack of red blood cells and oxygen supply, the body parts tend to swell up. This inflammation often occurs in the fingers and toes of the infected individual. This also causes tissue damage in the inflamed part of the body.
The treatments for this disease vary by severity. No cure exists, but its effects can be slowed down with medical help. We urge you to spread awareness about this disease among your friends, family and colleagues and seek out ways in which you can help and contribute.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.