Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder that affects the production of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. The symptoms of sickle cell can vary from person to person, but some common ones include:
- Pain: The most common symptom of sickle cell is pain, which can be severe and occur anywhere in the body, but especially in the joints, bones, and chest.
- Anemia: Sickle cells are fragile and break apart more easily than normal red blood cells, which can lead to anemia (a shortage of red blood cells) and fatigue.
- Swelling: The hands and feet may become swollen due to the blockage of blood flow caused by sickle cells.
- Infections: People with sickle cell disease have a weakened immune system and are more susceptible to infections.
- Jaundice: Sickle cells can break down rapidly, causing a buildup of bilirubin in the bloodstream, which can lead to jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
- Delayed growth and development: Sickle cell disease can slow down growth and development in children.
- Vision problems: Sickling in the blood vessels of the eyes can cause vision problems and even blindness.
- Priapism: Men with sickle cell disease can experience painful, prolonged erections known as priapism.
It’s important to note that the severity and frequency of symptoms can vary from person to person, and some people may not experience any symptoms at all. If you suspect you or a loved one has sickle cell disease, it’s essential to speak with a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.