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.