Sickle Cell Anemia is an inherited blood disorder involving chronic anemia and frequent pain. You must inherit the gene from both parents to get the disease. If you receive just one gene you will not have the condition but you will be a carrier.
The molecules in each red blood cell that carry oxygen from the lungs to the organs and tissues are called Hemoglobin. In Sickle cell anemia the hemoglobin is defective. They cluster together and form long, rod-like structures that become stiff and form a sickle shape.
The cells cannot squeeze through small blood vessels. They cause blockage and deny the organs and tissue the oxygen carrying blood which causes pain and other serious problems.
Whereas normal red blood cells last approximately 120 days in the bloodstream, sickle cells only last 10-20 days. Since they cannot be replaced fast enough the blood is constantly short of red blood cells which creates anemia.
Anemia is where the hemoglobin is not adequate to get enough oxygen to the brain, muscles and all the other tissues and they began to slow down. The person feels weak and tired at first and then other more serious symptoms appear.
Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath after mild exertion, headaches and dizziness. The longer you have anemia and do not treat it, the worse your symptoms can become.
They can include difficulty of concentration, pale skin, lips and nail beds, cold extremities, frequent illnesses and stopping of menstruation.
Causes of Anemia
Unlike sickle cell anemia that is inherited, anemia can be caused by outside circumstances. A diet that is deficient in iron, folic acid, or vitamin B can bring on anemia. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia are cases where anemia is highly common.
Causes include acute blood loss from surgery, childbirth, menstruation or injury. Also chronic blood loss from bleeding ulcers, colon disorders, gum disease or bleeding hemorrhoids can bring on anemia.
Pregnancy, inherited blood disorders, inability to absorb vitamin B12 or folic acid, poor digestion and absorption (with low stomach acid) are also causes of anemia.
Dietary changes are of extreme importance in treating anemia. Make sure you get plenty of iron. Green leafy vegetables, leeks, cashews, cherries, strawberries, dried fruit, figs, kelp, and eggs are all excellent sources of iron.
Supplements are an excellent way to obtain your needed nutrients. A spoonful of blackstrap molasses every day is a rich source of iron. Brewer’s yeast is a good source of iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12.
Vitamin C will help your body absorb and retain iron. Dandelion has high iron content, cleanses the blood and detoxifies the liver.
In aplastic anemia, the bone marrow stops producing enough new blood cells. This not only gives you the shortage of red blood cells, but also a scarcity of white blood cells to fight germs and platelets to help clot blood. It can come on suddenly and be brief or it can turn chronic.
Treatments may include observation for mild cases include blood transfusions, medications and bone marrow transplants if it is a severe case.
Pernicious anemia (megaloblastic) is a rare disorder in which the body does not absorb enough vitamin B12 from the digestive tract causing not enough red blood cells to be produced.