Complications of Sickle Cell Anemia
Hand-Foot Syndrome – Sickling can block the small blood vessels on the hands or feet lead to pain, swelling, and fever. This is the hand-foot syndrome which is very often the first sign of SCA in infants
Spleen damage -.The spleen traps sickled RBC; this damages the spleen and also causes anemia
Infections are very common in SCA children. Pneumonia, meningitis, hepatitis and influenza gravely affect young children with sickle cell anemia.
Acute Chest Syndrome is a life-threatening condition caused either by anemia or by sickled cells trapped in the lungs. Its symptoms are similar to pneumonia and it may sometimes lead to pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)
Delayed Growth / Puberty in Children –Both growth and puberty are retarded in children with SCA due to the sickled cell
Stroke – Stroke can occur either when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or when it bursts. This could lead to long-term disability, lasting brain damage, paralysis or even death.
Eye Problems occur when sickled RBCs clog the blood vessels of the eyes and damage the retina leading to blindness.
Priapism -Painful and uncalled for erections, called priapism, are common in SCA sufferers. This can, with time, damage the penis leading to impotence.
Gallstones – When the RBCs die they release Hb that gets converted to blirubin, which in excess can form gall stones which can be very painful.
Leg ulcers /sores which usually appear in the age group between 10-50years are more common in men than in women. The exact cause is unknown. Some ulcers heal fast while others persist for longer periods or may even recur.
Bone Infarction /aseptic necrosis – localized death of bone tissue due to improper circulation is seen in SCA patients.
Multiple organ failure – In some patients two or three organs fail and this can be fatal.