Encyclopedia Home / S / Sickle cell anemia

Sickle cell anemia

  • Alternative Names

    Anemia - sickle cell; Hemoglobin SS disease (Hb SS); Sickle cell disease


    Symptoms usually don't occur until after age 4 months.

    Almost all patients with sickle cell anemia have painful episodes (called crises), which can last from hours to days. These crises can affect the bones of the back, the long bones, and the chest.

    Some patients have one episode every few years. Others have many episodes per year. The crises can be severe enough to require a hospital stay.

    Common symptoms include:

    • Attacks of abdominal pain
    • Bone pain
    • Breathlessness
    • Delayed growth and puberty
    • Fatigue
    • Fever
    • Paleness
    • Rapid heart rate
    • Ulcers on the lower legs (in adolescents and adults)
    • Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)

    Other symptoms include:

    • Chest pain
    • Excessive thirst
    • Frequent urination
    • Painful and prolonged erection (priapism - occurs in 10 - 40% of men with the disease)
    • Poor eyesight/blindness
    • Strokes
    • Skin ulcers

    Signs and tests

    Tests commonly performed to diagnose and monitor patients with sickle cell anemia include:

    • Complete blood count (CBC)
    • Hemoglobin electrophoresis
    • Sickle cell test

    Other tests may include:

    • Bilirubin
    • Blood oxygen
    • CT scan or MRI
    • Peripheral smear
    • Serum creatinine
    • Serum hemoglobin
    • Serum potassium
    • Urinary casts or blood in the urine
    • White blood cell count