Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sickle Cell Disease - Diagnosis


General Symptoms in Infants. In infants, symptoms do not usually appear until late in the baby's first year. Most commonly, they include:

  • Fever
  • Swelling of the hands and feet
  • Pain in the chest, abdomen, limbs, and joints
  • Nosebleeds and frequent upper respiratory infections

General Symptoms in Children. Pain is the most common complaint. It can be acute and severe or chronic, usually from orthopedic problems in the legs and low back. Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue and shortness of breath (signs of anemia)
  • Irritability
  • Jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes)

Additional Symptoms in Adolescence or Adulthood. Symptoms from childhood continue in adolescence and adulthood. In addition, patients may have:

  • Delayed puberty (in young teenagers)
  • Severe joint pain
  • Progressive anemia
  • Leg sores
  • Gum disease
  • Vision problems

Sickle Cell Crisis

Sickle cell crises are episodes of pain that occur with varying frequency and severity in different patients and are usually followed by periods of remission. Severe sickle cell pain has been described as being equivalent to cancer pain and more severe than postsurgical pain. It most commonly occurs in the lower back, leg, abdomen, and chest, usually in two or more locations. Episodes usually recur in the same areas. (See "Pain and Acute Sickle Cell Crisis" in Complications section of this report.)

Review Date: 01/13/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (