What Are the Signs, Symptoms and Risk Factors of Sickle Cell Anemia?

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Signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia can vary from person to person and change over time. These symptoms include anemia, episodes of pain, painful hands and feet swelling, frequent infections, delayed growth and vision problems. Besides, risk factors of the disease are for both of the parents to carry a sickle cell gene.

Symptoms of sickle cell anemia: frequent infections, delayed growth and more.

  • Anemia. Sickle cells break apart easily and die, leaving you without enough red blood cells. Without enough red blood cells, your body can't get the oxygen it needs to feel energized. Therefore, you may easily get tired.
  • Episodes of pain. Patients of this disease may experience periodic episodes of pain. When the sickle-shaped red blood cells block blood flow through tiny blood vessels to your chest, abdomen and joints, you will feel the pain. Pain can also occur in your bones. Some adolescents and adults with sickle cell anemia also have chronic pain, which can result from bone and joint damage, ulcers and other causes.
  • Painful swelling of hands and feet. In fact, the swelling is caused by sickle-shaped red blood cells blocking blood flow to the hands and feet.
  • Frequent infections. Due to the fact that sickle cells can damage an organ that fights infection (spleen), the disease leaves you more vulnerable to infections.
  • Delayed growth. Red blood cells provide your body with the oxygen and nutrients you need for growth. Therefore, a shortage of healthy red blood cells can slow growth in infants and children and delay puberty in teenagers.
  • Vision problems. Tiny blood vessels that supply your eyes may become plugged with sickle cells. This can damage the retina, leading to vision problems.

Risk factors of sickle cell anemia:

For a baby to be born with sickle cell anemia, both parents must carry a sickle cell gene. In the United States, it most commonly affects black people.