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What are the symptoms of sickle cell disease?

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It’s a disease that turns your red blood cells stiff and sickle-shaped, so they don’t’ move well through your bloodstream. That can damage your vision, lead to frequent infections, and other problems. Signs of sickle cell disease usually appear in children at 5-6 months of age. Early symptoms include:

With sickle cell disease, you don't have enough healthy red blood cells. This is a condition called anemia. Symptoms can include:

  • Extreme fussiness
  • Painful swelling of the hands and feet due to blockage of blood flow. Your doctor may call this "dactylitis."
  • Yellow skin and whites of the eyes (called jaundice or icterus)
  • Trouble breathing
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Pale skin color
  • Delayed growth in infants
  • Delayed puberty in teens

SOURCES:

National Human Genome Research Institute: “Learning About Sickle Cell Disease.”

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “Sickle Cell Anemia,” “What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease?”

Mayo Clinic: “Sickle Cell Anemia.”

American Society of Hematology: “Sickle Cell Anemia.”

CDC: “Complications and Treatments.”

UpToDate: "Bone and Joint Complications in Sickle Cell Disease."

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin on June 23, 2019

SOURCES:

National Human Genome Research Institute: “Learning About Sickle Cell Disease.”

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “Sickle Cell Anemia,” “What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease?”

Mayo Clinic: “Sickle Cell Anemia.”

American Society of Hematology: “Sickle Cell Anemia.”

CDC: “Complications and Treatments.”

UpToDate: "Bone and Joint Complications in Sickle Cell Disease."

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin on June 23, 2019

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How long can a pain crisis from sickle cell disease take?

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