Sickle-cell anemia, or sickle cell disease, is a type of inherited genetic disorder that results in abnormally shaped blood cells.
Specifically, a genetic mutation causes the body to make faulty hemoglobin, a protein that allows the blood to deliver fresh oxygen to the body. Instead of flexible and round red blood cells, sickle-cell anemia creates red blood cells that are c-shaped and sticky.
To learn more about symptoms or treatment of sickle-cell anemia in Southern California, visit a Dignity Health location near you:
Sickle-Cell Anemia Symptoms
Since all 50 states in the the US screen babies for sickle-cell anemia, most children are diagnosed before symptoms even appear.
Sickle-shaped blood cells don’t move easily through blood vessels. This can cause painful blockages and lead to medical complications. These defective blood cells die much quicker, resulting in a low red blood cell count (anemia).
The symptoms of sickle-cell anemia can include:
- Vision problems
- Delayed growth
- Jaundice, or yellowish tone to the skin and whites of the eyes
- Frequent infections
- Lack of energy
- Swollen hands or feet
- Pain, including sudden severe pain and chronic pain
Sickle-Cell Anemia Causes
The main cause of sickle-cell anemia is heredity. With this condition, a genetic mutation is passed down through generations. However, both parents have to pass this down for a child to have the disease. Two parents with this genetic mutation have a one in four chance of passing sickle-cell anemia to their baby.
Sickle-Cell Anemia Treatment at Dignity Health Southern California Hospitals
Treatment for sickle-cell anemia typically focuses on genetic counseling and guidance for parents-to-be. Genetic testing can help provide more information on the risks of having a child with the disease, specifically, whether both parents have the sickle cell gene.
At Dignity Health Southern California hospitals, doctors and staff offer compassionate care to relieve symptoms and treat complications of sickle-cell anemia.
Your doctor may recommend:
- Immunizations to prevent infection. A child with sickle-cell anemia is more susceptible to infection. Your doctor can provide the right immunizations at the right time.
- Blood transfusions to treat anemia.
- Medications to prevent infection and help with pain relief.
In addition, ongoing medical care is essential, and may include screening and treatment for:
- Vision problems
- Circulation disorders
- Thinking and learning problems
When possible, your doctor may recommend a bone marrow transplant. This can cure sickle-cell anemia but it’s a difficult procedure with significant risks. Talk with your doctor to learn more.
Dignity Health doctors provide diagnosis and care for sickle-cell anemia in Southern California