While there are over 400 types of anemia, sickle cell anemia is one form that is very likely to cause the patient to become disabled and need financial help. New England residents who suffer from sickle cell anemia and find themselves unable to work may consider applying for Social Security disability benefits.
In this inherited condition, the patient’s body forms crescent-shaped red blood cells. These cells contain abnormal hemoglobin that causes the shape. Sticky and weak, they block the flow of blood in the vessels, resulting in low oxygen levels. Sickle cell anemia can cause severe pain, infection and even organ damage.
A defective gene that is passed on from one generation to the next causes sickle cell anemia. However, both the mother and father must carry the gene to pass the actual disease on to their offspring. In addition, sickle cell anemia is more common in those of African and Mediterranean descent in the United States.
The symptoms of sickle cell anemia cause what are called crises, which are very painful and may cause the patient to be hospitalized. Some common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain attacks.
- Pain in the bones of the back, legs, arms and chest.
- Severe fatigue
- Ulcers on the legs
- Diminished eyesight or blindness
- Fast heart rate
- Blood transfusions
- Kidney dialysis or transplant
- Bone marrow transplants
- Stem cell transplants
- Eye surgery
In the last few decades, treatment for and prevention of sickle cell anemia have improved greatly and research continues to explore medical options. Meanwhile, if you, a family member or a child suffers from this disease, there is government financial help available.
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