Sickle Cell Disease brings misery to the family. The burden is heavy and sad. It takes its toll on marriages. SCD, does not spare family relationships. It is a
very scary challenge. It exerts intense misery on the family. Sickle Cell Disease is prevalent in Nigeria. Nigeria has the highest burden in Africa and
the world at large.
Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic disorder. It is caused by mutation in genes. According to Hardvard Scientists, ‘Two genes for the sickle hemoglobin
must be inherited from one’s parents in order to have the disease. A person who receives a gene for sickle cell disease from one parent and a normal
gene from the other has a condition called “sickle cell trait.” Sickle cell trait produces no symptoms or problems for most people’.
If both parents have sickle cell traits , they can have children with sickle cell. This is their Genotype. Genotype is the unique genome of a person. It is one’s genetic identity. Genotypes are AA, AS, AC, SS , SC. AA is normal
haemoglobin, AS and AC have the sickle cell trait, while SS and SC have the sickle cell disease. If both parents have AA, then they will have AA, no sickle
cell. If one parent has AS or AC, then there is a possibility of having children with the traits. But if both parents have the trait, AS and AS , then
their is a high chance of having children that have hemoglobin SS or SC. You know your genotype through a laboratory test. It will help you make an informed decision.
Sickle cell disease varies from person to person. It varies in severity. The symptoms also are not uniform. SCD is an inherited disorder. It can be
diagnosed at birth. Signs and symptoms can be noticed between 4 to 6 months of age. Symptoms can be triggered by environmental, emotional or physical factors. Here are some symptoms:
Do not ignore nor trivialize these symptoms. The symptoms are genuine. Pay attention to a child who shows any of the signs. It could degenerate into fatal complications. Parents are in denial when they notice such symptoms. It is important to accept the reality, get informed and act fast. The best option is to see a doctor and manage the situation with precision.
Sickle Cell Disease has far reaching complications. In recent years, there has been a reduction of mortality. The complications are as a result of the
abnormal red blood cells. The blood cells are starved of oxygen. Thus , organ damage occurs. Some of the complications are as follows.
This is when the red blood stiffens and obstructs smooth flow. The pain can be in the back, legs, hands , all over the body. It can start suddenly. The pain
can last for long periods or short. Some adults live with the pain. It is a common complication.
These start as simple tiny wound on the ankle. It can develop into a large ugly wound. The can be quite painful. The ulcer is difficult to heal. It takes months. Please see a doctor to manage it.
This is a very serious complication. It can be fatal. This is when sickled blood blocks flow in the lungs. It induces hypoxia as the patient
struggles to breath. Do not try to manage this at home. Get to the doctor fast. Acute chest syndrome has no home remedy.
The stiff red blood cells block blood flow in the penis. This causes a painful erection. This can last long and can cause damage to the reproductive organ.
The spleen swells and becomes painful. This is because sickle cells cannot flow through the spleen. It is often an emergency. It is common in children.
The spleen is on the left side of the tummy.The symptoms vary. The child may just be weak and sleepy but discomfort in the tummy.
This is silent. It is when the sickling happens in the brain. Symptoms are seizures, numbness, slurred speed, extreme sleepiness or loss of consciousness. Seek the help of a doctor immediately. It can be fatal.
This is high blood pressure in the lungs. It presents with panting, and tiredness. It is common with adults. Pulmonary hypertension can also be very fatal. Go to the hospital.
The sickle cells starve the bone of oxygen. This leads to bone death. It results from repeated pain episodes. it happens in the hips. It is common
with teens and adults. This requires hip replacement if pain is unmanageable.
Complications are possible during pregnancy. This is rated as high risk pregnancy. Some complications during pregnancy include but not limited to:
We must note that the complications of Sickle Cell Disease are as a result of the blood cells stiffening and starving the whole body of oxygen. The blood cells die off easily and creates chronic anemia. The attention of a doctor is required to mange these complications. They usually require prompt action.