In hereditary disease, called sickle cell anemia, red blood cells contain abnormal hemoglobin – the so-called hemoglobin S.
Due to this defective hemoglobin, the red blood cells are deformed – in the form of a sickle – especially when the oxygen concentration in the blood is reduced. These sickle cells (drepanocytes) do not pass smoothly through the capillaries, and can clog the blood vessels hindering the flow of blood into the tissues. This causes anoxia (lack of oxygen), so the number of sickle cells increases in the blood, and the condition is worsening; such seizures are called sickle cell crisis.
In severe form, the drepanocytosis appears as a disease causing all the symptoms of anemia. In the sickle cells crisis, the pains appear in the bones (usually in the limbs) or in the abdomen. Such crises usually occur at the time of infection and can cause complications during the operation.
Severe forms of this disease, as well as mild forms without symptoms, are practically unknown in our regions. This disease is known to people of African origin. Every thousand American Black is suffering from a severe form of this disease. Disease is also common among Caribbean Blacks.
Anyone who has a severe form of this disease must seek medical advice before traveling on a plane or in mountain areas (above 2000 m). Severe serpentine cells may damage vital organs due to poor blood flow to these organs and, in some cases, also cause death due to heart decompensation, kidney failure or stroke.
What to do?
If someone in your family has sickle cell anemia, contact the genetic counseling center before planning offspring.
If you or your child show symptoms of anemia with joint or abdominal pain, contact a doctor who will examine the possibility of sickle cell anemia, especially if the illness is known to be inherited in your family. Blood sample analysis will show whether you are suffering from the disease. Heritable sickle cell anemia is incurable; only symptoms can be treated. Acute pain crises are a major problem; they are treated with analgesics (painkillers). If a crisis occurs due to an infection, the infection is immediately treated with antibiotics.