Sunday, August 31, 2014

Preventing Sickle Cell Anemia Is Not Possible

By Harriet Porter

Sickle cell anemia is among blood disorders that are passed down genetically from parents to kids. It only affects the hemoglobin in red blood cells, but its effect causes several other health and physical complications. The shape of red blood cells changes to a crescent. As a result of such a shape, oxygen requirements of the body cannot be met by the supply made by the cells. Preventing sickle cell anemia has not been achieved yet, even though severity and frequency of complications that result can be reduced a lot.

Hemoglobin S, an abnormal form of hemoglobin is the one responsible for causing the condition. Red blood cells that have this form of hemoglobin appear fragile and have an abnormal shape. The shape makes the cells incapable of transporting enough blood oxygen to the body. Sometimes blood flow is hindered by the cells when the stick in narrow blood vessels. The cells also break upon slight impact with walls of the vessels.

The condition has to be inherited from both parents for an individual to experience the symptoms. If only one of the parents has the condition, the baby will have sickle cell trait. People with the trait do not experience symptoms. The condition is most common among people of Africa, Middle East, Central and South America, Mediterranean descent, and the Caribbean.

Babies take four months before symptoms become visible. The symptoms reveal themselves as painful episodes known as crises. Once they have began, crises last variable periods. The period may range from hours to days. Crises cause legs, lower backs, chests, and joints to hurt. When the disease has reached am advanced level, the pain may be experienced in the entire body.

Different patients experience episodes at different frequencies. Some may have episodes once in years whereas others experience many episodes yearly. The episodes can sometimes be very severe requiring the patient to be hospitalized for the whole time. When the disease has reached severe levels, patients experience fatigue, paleness, rapid heart rates, jaundice, and shortness of breath. Blocked blood vessels are also indicated by various symptoms including priapism, blindness, ulcers in lower legs, and confusion.

Parents who have the disease are strongly advised to seek genetic counseling before getting babies. The genetic specialist will advise on the safest way of getting kids and how to take care of them. Since there is no known cure or preventive measures, there are several recommendations made for patients to avoid complications. The first recommendation is to have regular physical examinations. The examinations should be spaced between 3 to 6 months.

Leading a healthy lifestyle is advisable for all patients. One should consume a diet with plenty of low-fat diary products, fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and protein foods like peas, beans, seafood, eggs, and seeds. High levels of solid fats, refined grains, added sugars, and sodium should be avoided because they accelerate complications.

Realistic methods of handling pain should be formulated by the patients with assistance from their doctors. The community and family should be willing to extend emotional and social support at all times. Today patients leave for more than 60 years if they follow healthy lifestyles, take medication, and get moral support from people around them.

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