What are the symptoms and complications of sickle cell disease?
• Chronic anemia. Anemia can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath and pale skin. • Pain. Pain is caused by sickle cells blocking tiny blood vessels; the pain of sickle cell disease can be chronic, but more often comes in periodic episodes that can be severe enough that patients must be treated in a hospital. • Infection. Sickle cell disease damages the spleen, making people with the disease much more susceptible to serious infections. Young children especially are at risk of developing infections that can turn fatal within a few hours. • Organ and tissue damage. Blocked blood vessels can starve organs and tissues of vital oxygen and nutrients in blood. • Stroke. Children are especially at risk for stroke, which is caused by blocked blood vessels leading to the brain. • Stunted growth and delayed puberty. This is caused by the chronic anemia of sickle cell disease. • Hand-foot syndrome. Blocked blood vessels can cause swelling and pain in the hands and feet, sometimes accompanied by fev