Each and every day tens of thousands of people worldwide suffer from a disease known as sickle-cell anemia. This autosomal recessive disease causes pain and agony for everyone in its path. In sickle-cell patients the hemoglobin is defective, causing pain and ultimately can damage tissue. This disease is a complexity of overlaying symptoms, that can be excruciating for the victim.
Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body to nourish tissues and sustain life. When the cells are healthy they resemble small inner tubes. This unique shape allows the cells to serve many functions. The large surface area allows more oxygen to be absorbed, and enhances flexibility to squeeze when necessary through capillaries. Oxygen is carried within the red blood cells by hemoglobin. Sickle-cell disease is caused by a genetic defect in the hemoglobin molecules. The disease is triggered when red blood cells become deprived of oxygen, therefore resulting in sickle-shaped, rigid, and sticky blood cells that are unable to squeeze through capillaries. The blood flow is blocked, depriving tissues and organs of oxygen. .
Effects and severity of the disease range vastly from patient to patient. The abnormal shape of the cell, causes water and potassium loss. This loss will later result in dehydration. Sickle cells also have a shorter life span than the normal red blood cells. The crescent shaped cells are destroyed many times so rapidly the body cannot keep up. The red blood cell count drops, which results in anemia. This rapid destroying process is what gave the disease its name.
"As medical progress has increased the life span of children with the sickle-cell disease, older patients are now facing medical problems- (Web, MD). "The hallmark of sickle-cell anemia is a group of devastating symptoms known collectively as a sickle-cell crisis" (Web, MD). Sickle-cell crises are episodes of pain that occur with different severities.