Common Specialities
Common Issues
Common Treatments


Last Updated: November 04, 2019
Change Language

Sickle Cell Anemia - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

What is Sickle Cell Anemia? What are the types of sickle cell anemia? What are the symptoms of sickle cell anemia? What are the causes of sickle cell anemia? How is sickle cell anemia diagnosed? How is sickle cell anemia treated? How is sickle cell anemia inherited? Can sickle cell be cured? What are the complications of sickle cell anemia? What is the cost of sickle cell anemia treatment in India? What are the home remedies for sickle cell anemia?

What is Sickle Cell Anemia?

Sickle cell anemia is an abnormality of Red Blood Cells (RBCs). It is also known as sickle cell disease (SCD) and it is genetic. Normally the shape of RBCs are disc-like which make it flexible to travel within the smallest blood vessels. The disease is known as sickle cell anemia because of the fact that the shape of abnormal red blood cells resemble a sickle. The condition also include inflammation, pain as well as damaging of the tissues.

What are the types of sickle cell anemia?

Below we have discussed all types of SCD with a brief description:

  1. Hemoglobin SS disease: Being one of the most common types of sickle cell disease, it occurs when the patient inherits hemoglobin S gene copies from both parents. This is also known as Hb SS and is the most severe form of SCD.. Patients with Hb SS suffers worst symptoms.
  2. Hemoglobin SC disease: this disease can be regarded as common kind of sickle cell disease. A patient will only suffer from this disease when he/she inherits Hb S gene from one parent and Hb C gene from another one. It is to be mentioned that patients who are suffering from Hb SC will have similar symptoms with those who have Hb SS.
  3. Hemoglobin SB+ (beta) thalassemia: In this type, less beta protein is produced due to which the size of RBCs is reduced as it affects beta globin gene production. If this condition is inherited along with Hb S gene then the chances of a person to suffer from hemoglobin S beta thalassemia increases
  4. Hemoglobin SB O (Beta-zero) thalassemia: It is the fourth type of SCD which involves beta-globin gene. The symptom of this type is similar to Hb SS anemia but are more severe.
  5. Hemoglobin SD, SE, SO: They are very rare type of SCD and do not have severe symptoms.
  6. Sickle cell trait: Patient is said to have sickle cell trait if he inherits a mutated gene (hemoglobin S) from one parent.

What are the symptoms of sickle cell anemia?

The symptoms of sickle cell anemia are usually seen in a patient who are above 6 months of their age. There are many symptoms which include:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Anemia
  • Fussiness
  • Bedwetting
  • Jaundice
  • Swelling and pain in hands and feet
  • Infections
  • Pain in chest
  • Back pain
  • Leg or arm pain

Infants and younger children present with fever, abdominal pain, pneumococcal bacterial infections, dactylitis, splenic infarcts. Influenced newborn children don't present with manifestations for the initial months as the fetal hemoglobin keeps the red platelets from sickling. Fetal hemoglobin is missing in red platelets delivered after birth. Hence, by approximately 5 months of age, sickling of red cells and relevant symptoms start.

Adolescents and young adults more commonly present with leg ulcers, aseptic necrosis, and eye damage. Adults typically present with intermittent pain episodes due to bone injury, muscle or internal organ injuries.

What are the causes of sickle cell anemia?

Sickle cell anemia is a disorder of the red blood cells. It results when any kind of change or mutation takes place in hemoglobin chains in red blood cells (the beta hemoglobin chains). Normally RBCs are disc shaped cells transfer to every blood vessel including the smaller ones to supply oxygen in the entire body. The one who is suffering from sickle cell anemia has RBCs which are stiff and sickle in shape.

Due to their sickle shape they are unable to move in small vessels of our body which causes pain or swelling and sometimes damage of the organ. It is to be mentioned that a lifespan of a healthy RBC is about 120 days but the RBCs of sickle cell anemic patient only live for 10 to 20 days. This results in the deficiency of RBC known as anemia.

How is sickle cell anemia diagnosed?

A blood test can detect hemoglobin S-the abnormal hemoglobin in sickle cell anemia. You may likewise allude to a hereditary instructor. In children, a blood sample is taken from a finger or heels. The sample is screened for hemoglobin. In case, the screening is negative, no sickle cell gene is available however if the test positive, further tests are required to decide if a couple of sickle cell genes are available.

If sickle cell genes are detected, you may be tested for anemia. Further tests may be performed to check for complications of the disease. You may also be referred to a genetics specialist.

Sickle cell disease may also be diagnosed in a fetus by sampling the amniotic fluid for sickle cell genes. When either parent or both are diagnosed with the disease, it may be worth to undergo this screening. Also, referral to a genetic counselor is necessary to understand how to deal with the scenario.

How is sickle cell anemia treated?

Your doctor will provide you some medications which will help you in relieving the pain. If the condition is a bit serious, your medical practitioner will supply oxygen in your body through mask which will make breathing easier and will improve oxygen level in the blood. In some cases, the patient is hospitalized to provide a proper treatment.

How is sickle cell anemia inherited?

Sickle Cell Anemia or SCD is an autosomal recessive disease and it can be inherited from both parents. In other words if a patient receives only one copy of defective HBB genes from his mother or father then he will not have sickle cell anemia and sickle cell trait. A child can suffer from Sickle anemia if:

  • Traits of sickle cell are found in both the parents
  • Both have sickle cell anemia
  • One parent have SCT and the other has sickle cell anemia

How long can a person live with sickle cell anemia?

On an average span of a person live with sickle cell anemia is about 42-47 years.

Can sickle cell be cured?

Yes, SCD or Sickle Cell Disease can be cured. Your doctor will need to diagnose you and then after he will provide you the treatment. The treatment may include medications, bone marrow transplant, gene therapy.

What are the complications of sickle cell anemia?

Sickle cell anemia may cause a variety of complications like :

  • Pulmonary hypertension-this is more common in adults than in children and may present with shortness of breath and fatigue. It may also be fatal.
  • Stroke-occurs when sickle cells block the blood supply to an area of the brain. Signs of a stroke include weakness, seizures, numbness of arms and legs, slurred speech and loss of consciousness. A stroke may be fatal.
  • Acute chest syndrome is a hazardous complexity and may cause chest torment, fever, and shortness of breath. It is caused by lung contamination or because of sickle cells obstructing the blood supply to the lungs. It may require antibiotics along with other treatments.
  • Organ damage-sickle cells block the blood supply to various organs damaging them because of being deprived of oxygen and blood. In this illness, blood is low on oxygen in itself. Long-term deprivation of oxygen-rich blood may damage organs like kidneys, liver, spleen and many others. This may even be fatal.
  • Blindness-This is due to sickle cells damaging the blood vessels to the eyes.
  • Leg ulcers
  • Gall stones-breakdown of red blood cells produces bilirubin whose high levels can cause gallstones.
  • Priapism-It is a condition seen in men with sickle cell anemia where they have painful and long-lasting erections. This is because of sickle cells obstructing the veins to the penis. This can harm the penis and lead to ineptitude.

What is the cost of sickle cell anemia treatment in India?

The cost may vary from 25,000 INR to 40,000 INR depending on the hospital. It may also depend on the severity of the patient’s condition. This amount includes the charges of tests, doctor’s fee, medications etc.

What are the home remedies for sickle cell anemia?

Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disorder and thus home remedies can only be supportive care. These should be employed as supportive care treatment rather than the alternative treatment option. Some of the home remedies for the treatment of sickle cell anemia are as follows :

  • Over the counter drugs like aspirin and naproxen sodium must be used with caution if at all to be used because of its adverse effects on kidneys.
  • Exercise regularly and after medical advice but don’t overdo it.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures-Exposure to extreme heat or cold may provoke a sickle cell crisis.
  • Folic acid supplement and healthy diet consumption daily-Bone marrow require folic acid and other nutrients to produce new red blood cells. A diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains may prove beneficial in this regard.
  • Drink plenty of water-Dehydration increases the risk of sickle cell crisis. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day and increase its intake provided you exercise or live in a hot climate to fight the dehydration.

Popular Questions & Answers

My girlfriend and me both have sickle-cell carrier in our blood. Is there any (other than IVF technique, adopting )way to ensure that our children will not have sickle-cell anaemia.

MS - Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Gynaecologist, Delhi
When both partners are sickle cell carrier then each baby has 1 in 2 risk of being a carrier ,1 in4 risk of having sickle cell anaemia and 1 in4 chance of not being a carrier Ivf is not required ,can go for normal conception ,but prenatal testing ...
4 people found this helpful

I have 30% sick cell. मेरी शादी हो चुकि है पति बिल्कुल फिट हैं क्या मेरे बच्चों को सिकल सेल होने के chance हैं

Homeopathy Doctor, Noida
If he is also heterozygous then, yes, there are chances of sickle cell disease. But if he is not n only u r heterozygous then ur kids can be heterozygous just like u. But not necessarily
1 person found this helpful

Kya sickling ki problem ko hamesha ke liye khatam kiya ja sakta hai. Please jaldi answer dijiye.

BHMS, certificate course in yoga , Master in psychology
Homeopathy Doctor, Delhi
Ho skti h thk lekin uske liye hardly yoga follow krna pdega whenever you done yoga with breathing exercise than you blood quality improvement. And with the help of ferrum sip ferrum met q.

Hi Sir, My brother is suffering from sickle cell anaemia. What should I do now?

Homeopathy Doctor, Thane
Infection pain and fatigue r symptom treatment includes medication , blood transfusion ,rarely bone marrow transfusion narcotics , chemotherapy,r also do

What is the permanent treatment of sickilcell anemia? How much money spend in this treatment.

Homeopathy Doctor, Noida
Bone marrow transplant, also known as stem cell transplant, offers the only potential cure for sickle cell anemia. It's usually reserved for people younger than age 16 because the risks increase for people older than 16

Popular Health Tips

World Sickle Cell Day - What Should You Know?

Fellowship In PCCM, Fellow-Pediatric Flexible Bronchoscopy, Fellowship In Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care, D.C.H., M.B.B.S
Pediatrician, Ahmedabad
World Sickle Cell Day - What Should You Know?
World Sickle Cell Day is observed each year on June 19th to raise the public awareness regarding this disease and its treatment methods. Sickle Cell disease is an inherited transmitted deformity/abnormality of haemoglobin. It is an inherited form ...
3739 people found this helpful

सिकल सेल के बचाव - Sickle Cell Ke Bachaw!

Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery (BAMS)
Ayurvedic Doctor, Lakhimpur Kheri
सिकल सेल के बचाव - Sickle Cell Ke Bachaw!
सिकल सेल रोग असामान्य जीन से उत्पन्न एक आनुवांशिक रोग है जो माता-पिता से प्राप्त होते हैं. शरीर के रक्त मे लाल रक्त कण का आकार सामान्यतः उभयातल डिस्क के तरह होता है जो रक्तवाहिकाओं में आसानी से गमन करते हैं. पर सिकल सेल की स्थिति में ये लाल रक्त क...
26 people found this helpful
Content Details
Written By
Diploma in geriatric,MBBS,MEM,Diploma In Geriatric
General Physician
Play video
Hello! I am a Dr. Hamrah Siddiqui, gynecologist practicing in several hospitals in Delhi for last 27-28 years. Now I have my own Hospital where I am practicing. I am specialized in laparoscopic surgery, infertility, and high-risk pregnancy. Topics...
Play video
Anemia - Symptoms And Causes
Hello, This is Dr Savita Rangarajan. I am going to talk briefly about anemia. Anemia is a condition where the haemoglobin is low, haemoglobin is very important in our body because it transports oxygen to all the organs of the body and when one has...
Play video
Know The Types Of Anemia
HI! I am Dr. Yukti Wadhawan, infertility specialist and gynaecologist from Delhi. Today we'll talk about anaemia. So, what is anaemia? It is a medical disorder that is characterized by a deficiency of haemoglobin and red blood cells in our blood. ...
Play video
Anemia - How To Cure It?
Hi, I am Dr. Mukta Rayate, Gynaecologist. I am practicing since 18 years. Today I will talk about anemia. It is a common problem in females. We found that more than 80% of females are suffering from anemia. If it is undiagnosd, it cannot be treate...
Play video
How To Rejuvenate Every Cell Of Our Body?
The question of cell renewal is one that all of us have intuitive daily experience with.
Having issues? Consult a doctor for medical advice