Table of Contents
This theme aids in the acquisition of knowledge requisite for a better comprehension of what Sickle Cell Disease entails. As a genetic disorder of the human circulatory system, Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) leads to a condition in which the Erythrocytes acquire an abnormal sickle shape, which tends to be quite rigid and therefore prevents them from passing through the veins (Barbarin & Christia, 1999). In cases where the erythrocytes are blocked as a result of rigidity or even abnormal shape, blood flow may be blocked, thus causing inadequate supply of oxygen as well as other nutrient requirements in certain body parts.
On the other hand, in circumstances of mutations of the hemoglobin S, a less soluble fluid, which may also get polymerized within the erythrocytes may be formed. This fluid may also contribute further to the hinderance of a smooth flow of blood. Severe pains within the regions where blood flow is insufficient may therefore occur. The illustration below provides an insight on the alteration of the shape of the erythrocytes that is associated with sickle cell traits.
The altered shape of the red blood cells reduces their capacity for oxygen packaging for transport. It is however worth noting that sickled cells have a relatively shorter life cycle of about 10-20 days as compared to other cells, which last for 120 days (Barbarin & Christia, 1999).
Most of the signs and symptoms of the Sickle Cell Disease are often observed from young ages of children (Creswell, 2001). The most conspicuous of these symptoms at the tender ages is the great reduction in the number of red blood cells in blood. In addition to the severe pain associated with the blockages, individuals suffering from the disorder experience enormous crises (Dyson, 1997). A crisis associated with the Sickle Cell Disease may often begin spontaneously, and may continue for a number of hours or even days. In particular, individuals living under the conditions of the disorder often exhibit these complications in terms of extreme vulnerability to various secondary infections such as jaundice (Dyson, 1997).
Similarly, one may also be faced with adverse situations of deterioration of muscles as well as joints. Severe episodes of pain in various body organs are also signs and symptoms of the Sickle Cell Disease. Such severe pain experiences have a common feature of recurring from time to time in organs such as the lungs, liver, gallstones, joints, spleen as well as the kidney. In adverse conditions, there may occur permanent damage to such organs. A condition known as priapism in males, which refer to the unintended erection of the penis characterized by extreme pain may also be observed.
A sickle cell crisis, which may be referred to as “pain crisis” is also a condition that is caused by blood flow is hindered by sickle cells. The pain may often start suddenly, but may however take several hours or days in some cases in certain individuals. Such pains would mostly be experienced in knees, back, arms, legs and the chest region as sharp, stabbing, dull or even throbbing. In most cases, individuals suffering from sickle cell crises may not be able to determine the causes of such challenges.
Living With Sickle Cell Trait
People who inherit both a normal gene and a sickle cell hemoglobin trait from their parents are said to be living with Sickle Cell Trait (Barbarin & Christia, 1999). Individuals who have been proven to be living with the sickle cell trait may not necessarily have Sickle Cell Disease (Dyson, 1997). Such individuals often experience severe pain at various moments. However, during such unwanted bitter experiences of sharp, throbbing or even stabbing pains, a number of such patients have been noted to exemplify lack of knowledge on how to counteract such pains.
However, with an adequate health care administered, individuals with Sickle Cell trait can live healthy, useful lives. Compared to the past, individuals living with the blood circulatory disorder have a higher life expectancy (Gil, et.al. 1991). Those responsible for the care of sickle cell traits have a core duty of maintaining an extra eye on their health progress through qualified procedures. These care givers may be parents, teachers as well as other guardians through directions and guidance by qualified medical practitioners (Gil, et.al. 1991). Learners living with sickle cell traits may be allocated special accommodations within the institutions.
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Some of the over-the-counter (OTC) may be used during mild pains. These drugs my are offered under strict adherence to the prescription of a qualified personnel, whose advice such patients may have been obtained at an earlier time. Parents are also advised to seek the advice of Primary Care Provider (PCP), before they administer any of the over-the-counter drugs to their children. Moreover, in cases where the individuals have relatively moderate or even severe pain, certain narcotic drugs such as codeine may be prescribed under strict adherence to the prescriptions of a qualified medical practioner. In such cases where mild narcotics are administered, patients should be watched keenly to ascertain that the drugs have worked to relive pain. If the drugs fail to relieve the patients of such pains, then they should be rushed to emergency services in the next available health facilities.
Moreover, in order to remove pain or moderate it in patients with such disorders, one may administer adequate water, fruit juice clear broth as well as popsicles (Barbarin & Christia, 1999). In addition, pain medications may be administered by a qualified medical practitioner or by an individual given strict instructions or guidance to follow. If for example, a teacher in school notes that a learner contracts fever, the next available medical practitioner or parents should be notified immediately (Barbarin & Christia, 1999). In some cases, learners with sickle cell traits may require special classroom guidelines (Barbarin & Christia, 1999).
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The parents as well as the teachers should anticipate more days of absence from the routine school programs. This may therefore require extra efforts such as having extra tutorials for such learners either in the hospitals or homes (Barbarin & Christia, 1999). Children living with sickle cell disorders should be allowed additional water as well as bathroom breaks. This is because such children have a higher water intake requirements (Barbarin & Christia, 1999). In addition, they also have their kidneys producing more urine thus causing dehydrating.
A number of activities may also prove useful in reducing the pain associated with sickle cell trait especially in children. Among the activities include offering the children a warm bath using a warm pad as well as a massage and regular bedrests (Barbarin & Christia, 1999). Children may also be kept busy most of the time with relaxing activities that help them forget their pain experiences most of the time. Among the activities include watching relevant television programs and films, playing computer games as well as speaking to relatives and friends over the phone (Barbarin & Christia, 1999). Extra caution should be taken by most parents of children living with the Sickle Cell Disease. The children should not play for longer hours or vigorous games that make them become exhausted. The children must be helped to avoid circumstances that interfere with normal breathing such as cigarette smoke.
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Evidence derived from the manner in which most victims living with Sickle Cell Traits (sickle cell anemia or disease) exemplifies the acute lack of bsic knowledge about the disorder. Just as vividly elaborated in the introductory chapters, the disorder is an inherited trait whose treatment is not defined. However, a number of steps are often taken to curb the lethal signs and sypmtoms associated with the disorder (Barbarin & Christia, 1999). Living with sickle cell traits, require that an individual pays the closest attention the advices provided by the doctors, such advices may include simple instructions such as regular consumption of vitamin A, so as to promote the manufacture red blood cells within the body (De Montalembert, 2008). Regular physical activities are compulsory to keep the body of an individual living with sickle cell conditions healthy.
Similarly, one may require regular and adequate bed rests as directed by doctors (De Montalembert, 2008). Alongside maintaining proper healthy diet, an individual living with sickle cell traits must desist completely from drug and substance use abuse. For instance, smoking and alcohol consumption would bear lethal effects on the patient (De Montalembert, 2008). One should also avoid exposure to extreme temperatures. During cold seasons, one living with sickle cell traits should be clothed in warm clothes.