Why Insomnia Exists in People with Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia is a disease in the blood. It is a hereditary condition that could be passed on from generation to generation. Parents serve as the carrier of the disease, but this could only affect their child if both of them could pass on the abnormal gene.

The red blood cells are the main problem in people suffering from sickle cell anemia because instead of normally round-shaped oxygen-carrying hemoglobin, the shape of the red blood cells is crescent, more like a letter C. This abnormality in the shape of the red blood cells causes rigidity, thus causing a delay in the distribution of oxygen throughout the body.

Why Insomnia Exists in People with Sickle Cell Anemia

In connection to that, signs and symptoms will occur, which include hypoxia, jaundice, and anemia, episodes of pain, frequent infections, hand-foot syndrome, delayed growth, and visual problems. These symptoms are quite hard to deal with. Thus, medical attention is highly recommended for a series of treatments.

How does sickle cell anemia trigger insomnia in patients? Well, it’s not hard to relate the two conditions, given all the signs and symptoms associated with sickle cell disease. Here are some points.


This is one of the factors why insomnia occurs in persons with sickle cell anemia. Hypoxia has something to do with difficulty in breathing because the heart is required to pump much because of an anemic blood. So if there is difficulty in breathing, it is hard for someone to have a goodnight sleep. Thus, insomnia could develop. It would be a good option to find ways on how to alleviate hypoxia so as to prevent any further experience of insomnia.

Episodes of Pain

This is one of the first symptoms that a patient with sickle cell anemia experiences. The pain is due to swelling in different parts of the body, which usually affects the muscles, feet, legs, arms, hips, shoulders, and back. The episodes of pain could last for hours and even weeks. So if there is pain, it is hard to rest and fall asleep. In the long run, a person will surely develop insomnia. Sleepless nights or insomnia is managed when the episodes of pain are addressed because this is the reason why such condition exists.

It is best to always have regular checkup to assess the severity of the condition. Regular checkup and appointment to the doctor would mean more chances of being treated from sickle cell anemia, and so as from all the signs and symptoms associated with it.

Nutritional Therapy for Sickle Cell Anemia

People suffering from sickle cell anemia have increased needs for micronutrients and enough calories. It is essential for them to have a nutritional therapy that consists mainly of fruits, legumes, vegetables, and whole grains to address their nutritional needs. Moreover, appropriate supplementation will help in preventing deficiencies caused by abnormal red blood cells.

High-Caloric, Nutrient-Dense Diet

The average calories sickle cell patients need are generally low, most especially when they are experiencing a sickle cell crisis. Thus, children who have sickle cell anemia may experience impaired growth patterns and significantly low weight in comparison to those who aren’t affected. Careful nutritional assessment and energy supplements are necessary.

Adequate Fluid Therapy for Hydration

It is important to note that dehydration may increase the production of sickled red blood cells. Therefore, it is of great importance for those who suffer in this disease to consume adequate amounts of fluids. As a matter of fact, in some cases, hospitalization may be necessary for intravenous fluids therapy.

Vitamins and Minerals Supplement Therapy

More often than not, there is a reduced amount in several vitamins and minerals — such as vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, and zinc — in people who are suffering from sickle cell anemia. Thus, this results to a deficiency in antioxidants; thereby, resulting in increased risk of a sickle cell crisis. Studies show that supplementation with vitamins and minerals along with high doses of antioxidants can significantly reduce the chances of sickling of red blood cells.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement Therapy

Omega-4 fatty acid supplements are effective in improving the membranes of red blood cells; thereby, reducing the incidence of sickle cell crisis. According to an initial study, omega-3 fatty acids with fish oil reduce the likelihood of painful episodes that frequently require hospitalization. However, this result hasn’t been confirmed yet in controlled studies.

Foods to Avoid

It is very important to note that some foods, even the healthy ones, may inhibit the absorption of iron in the body; therefore, they should be avoided as they may interfere with the treatment of sickle cell anemia. Fibers and phytates found in whole grain cereals and bread should be avoided since they obstruct the absorption of iron. Calcium and phosphorus found in dairy products limit iron absorption as well. Consumption of coffee and tea must be avoided or, at least, limited since they limit iron absorption; they also don’t hydrate the body as well as water.

The Benefit of Genetic Counseling in the Prevention of Sickle Cell Anemia

There are actually no definite preventive measures when it comes to sickle cell anemia, given that it is hereditary. However, one of the things that medical practitioner’s advice to parents who want to conceive a child but want to prevent their kids from acquiring the disease is to seek for a genetic counselor. These genetic counselors will explain all the information they need to learn. This is also one of the best measures in order to prevent the spread of sickle cell anemia disease in countries.

The Benefit of Genetic Counseling in the Prevention of Sickle Cell Anemia

Below are some of the advantages of meeting a genetic counselor:

The Benefit of Genetic Counseling in the Prevention of Sickle Cell Anemia
  • When you are to see a genetic counselor for genetic counseling, you will have better understanding of the possible risks that your conceived child might experience after birth. If you as a parent have a sickle trait or both you and your spouse are both carriers of sickle cell disease, genetic counselors will give you the possible percentage of your child getting the disease.
  • Genetic counselors will perform a series of genetic tests in order to learn possible birth abnormalities or defects that your kids will most likely acquire, including sickle cell anemia disease.
  • Genetic counselors will also provide you information about the possible consequences of having a child and will give you advice about the nature of the disorder.
  • If you as a couple really want to prevent any conception because you understand the risks, genetic counselors will discuss family planning and management during the course of the genetic counseling.
  • Genetic counselors could serve as your help group using genetic counseling.

If you will be open to the idea of genetic counseling, you will learn about the risks and consequences of having a child. This is actually one of the best preventive measures when it comes to the spread of sickle cell anemia disease.

Learning about Sickle Cell Anemia in Pediatrics

Sickle cell anemia is a hereditary condition that has something to do with a defect in the gene formation of the red blood cells. Thus, it causes a lot of health problems if not managed effectively. The diagnosis of sickle cell disease is already present even after birth. Newborn screening is one of the tests that infants should undergo in order to detect any possible hereditary condition like sickle cell anemia. If the result of the newborn screening is positive, the child undergoes a second test called hemoglobin electrophoresis in order to confirm the diagnosis.

Learning about Sickle Cell Anemia in Pediatrics

Taking Care of Children with Sickle Cell Disease

Because children are susceptible to any form of infection, it is significantly important that they should have an early diagnosis of and treatment for sickle cell anemia. There are actually states that require newborn screening for every child born in order to detect sickle cell disease. Once the child is positive with the disease, it is very important that parents must seek medical attention immediately. This is in order to prevent or manage any of these symptoms:

Learning about Sickle Cell Anemia in Pediatrics
  • Hand and foot syndrome: this condition affects the legs, arms, and feet. This condition is the first sign that can be seen on infants or children who have sickle cell anemia.
  • Sickle cell crisis: this could occur any time of any day and could last for hours, days, or even weeks. When episode of crisis happens, medical attention is required. The child will need hospitalization in order for the crisis to be managed because during this time, pain could occur at any part of the body, which the child may not be able to tolerate.
  • Infections: people who are very young and very old are the most susceptible to infections. A child with sickle cell disease who experiences high-grade fever should immediately be brought to a doctor.

Sickle cell disease is quite hard to handle, especially if the patient is a child. So all means to manage or treat the condition should be done as much as possible.

Sickle Cell Anemia: How it is cured

Sickle cell anemia is a genetically-linked disease wherein the body produces red blood cells that are abnormally shaped into a sickle; thereby, causing one to have abnormally low hemoglobin count. This type of anemia causes the person to become very sick due to the clumping of the sickle-shaped red blood cells, making the blood extremely viscous and the blood vessels becoming blocked — impeding the blood flow.

According to the University of Maryland Medical center, the only cure for sickle cell anemia currently is bone marrow transplant. It is important to note, however, that not everybody is well-suited to undergo such procedure. Some of the factors that need to be considered is the age, severity of the disease, and the availability of donors. Although the majority of those who underwent bone marrow transplants are successful in curing the disease, the procedure actually has several vital risks that come along with it.

How Does Bone Marrow Transplant Work?

Red blood cells are produced by soft tissues found inside your bones called the bone marrow. In those suffering with sickle cell anemia, the bone marrow produces red blood cells that contain defective hemoglobin; thus, the sickle-shaped RBC. With bone marrow transplant, the patient’s bone marrow is replaced with a healthy donor’s bone marrow. If successful, the healthy bone marrow enables the body to produce normal red blood cell; thereby curing the patient from sickle cell anemia.

Who is Eligible for Bone Marrow Transplant?

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the bone marrow transplant procedure is only a feasible for approximately 7% of sickle cell anemia cases. Those that are considered for this transplant procedure are generally children below 17 years old experiencing severe sickle cell manifestations with no extensive organ damage yet.

Success Rates

About 85% of bone marrow transplant cases are successful, according to Kaiser Permanente. At least 10% of the recipients survived but aren’t cured of the disease.

Sleep Apnea in Patients Suffering from Sickle Cell Anemia

According to a study published last week in the online journal Pediatrics funded by the National Institute of Health, children suffering from sickle cell anemia are more likely to suffer sleep apnea than those who are healthy.

Sleep apnea is a disorder related to sleep breathing pattern which reduces the levels of oxygen in the blood during nighttime. Patients that suffer from this disorder cease breathing for a while lasting from a few seconds up to a few minutes which happens frequently throughout the sleeping cycle.


According to the Sleep Apnea Association, approximately 1 to 5% of children in the United States suffer from sleep apnea. The risk factors associated with this include chronic tonsillitis and adenoiditis, as well as obesity and smaller upper airways.

Sickle cell anemia, on the other hand, is among the most common genetic disorders in the country and it is commonly diagnosed in newborn babies. It is estimated that sickle cell anemia affects approximately 70,000 to 100,000 people in the United States; which commonly affects African Americans.

What is the Cause of Sleep Apnea in Sickle Cell Anemia?

Children who have sickle cell anemia have lower levels of oxygen compared to healthy children. Thus, they are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea, as well as asthma.

According to the study conducted by Dr. Michael DeBaun of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Dr. Robert Strunk of Washington University School of Medicine, they have found that there is a relationship between breathing problems and increased hospitalizations due to pain and chest problems in children that suffer sickle cell anemia.

Their study shows that sickle cell anemia patients who have sleep apnea have more severe symptoms of their condition than those who patients that don’t have sleep apnea.

According to Dr. Carol Rosen of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, low oxygen levels trigger sickling of the cells; thus, if you have sleep apnea with episodes of low oxygen, may more likely experience more health problems and sickling.

Effect of Sickle Cell Anemia: Weight Loss or Weight Gain?

Sickle cell anemia (SCD) is a disease involving an abnormality in the blood wherein the red blood cells are deformed and are more viscous, causing a patient to suffer from its alarming signs and symptoms. Many diseases facilitate weight gain. However, let us see what the effect of this disease will be – weight loss or weight gain?

All the symptoms of SCD don’t have to be experienced by all SCD sufferers. There are those who experience a few, and some may experience almost all of the symptoms of the disease.

The first symptom experienced due to this condition is sickle cell crisis, which is one of the most distressing symptoms of SCD. This occurs when the abnormal hemoglobin has accumulated in the blood vessels. When this happens, the blood vessels cannot deliver blood to certain organs, thus damaging them. This will irritate the nerve endings, and painful swelling of hands and feet may arise. This pain will eventually be felt in various parts of the body, like abdomen, ribs, legs, pelvis, and others. What makes this worse is that the pain could last for days up to weeks.

Second, since anemia is evident in people having SCD, this can result to fatigue, breathing problems, and palpitations. Also, a more serious type of anemia, called a plastic crisis, can take place, which happens when anemia and a certain infection is combined. This will result to headache, fainting, fever, and infections like pneumonia, meningitis, and osteomyelitis. This is why for some; daily doses of antibiotics are taken as precautionary measure against certain kinds of infection.

Third, losing of bone tissue may be expected because of poor blood supply. In this condition, a vascular necrosis affects the hip, resulting to pain in the groin. The pain felt here is intense, making a person unable to do simple things, even eating his meals.

Last, painful leg ulcers may develop, especially in the ankle area. This can be a result of skin infection coming from a wound. Children with this disease should be attended well in order to prevent them from getting wounded.

After learning some of the most common symptoms associated with SCD, we can really say that this disease does not lead to weight gain. Patients who have this disorder feel a consistent pain and experience body weakness as they age. This stress will cause them to shed off weight. No one gains weight when in pain and when battling infection.

Pregnant Women with Sickle Cell Anemia: Must Know

If you are suffering from sickle cell anemia and you are currently pregnant or at least trying to conceive, it is highly recommended that you consult with your doctor as soon as possible. Having expert care is very essential since there are more painful episodes during pregnancy and your anemia may get worse. Aside from that, there are also a lot of risks connected to it.

Risks for the Mother

Sickle cell anemia is a major concern among pregnant women primarily because they are unable to carry red blood cells without any consequences to both the mother and the body. With the reduced amounts of body in the blood supply, it results to a slow fetal development. For the mother, on the other hand, sickle cell anemia entails a greater risk for urinary tract infections, cystitis, gall stones, lung infections, as well as heart problems.

Risks for the Fetus

Because of the low levels of oxygen in the body due to sickle cell anemia, it entails a lot of risks to the fetus. Some complications include the possibility of a miscarriage, still birth, premature birth, low birth weight, and poor development of the fetus.

Prenatal Car

Pregnant women with sickle cell anemia must consult their physicians immediately to ensure a thorough course of treatment; which normally involves frequent visits to the doctor for prenatal care. More often than not, close fetal monitoring is necessary to ensure proper development. In fact, in some cases, blood transfusions are done. Proper nutrition with vitamin supplements are recommended.


Pregnant women suffering from sickle cell anemia who are in labor are managed with intravenous fluids in order to keep them hydrated. They are most likely to receive oxygen therapy through a mask. Fetal heart rate monitoring is also necessary to identify signs of fetal distress.

What Causes Sickle Cell Anemia?

Sickle cell anemia is a disease that affects both young and old, but it is more common in African, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean countries. This blood disorder is considered as an anemic condition that affects the red blood cells. In this case, the red blood cells form in an abnormal way. Instead of a cell that forms round in shape, the red blood cells mostly form a crescent shape or something shaped like the letter C.

What Causes Sickle Cell Anemia?

Unlike any other diseases, sickle cell anemia, or sickle disease as known to others, is not caused by factors like diet, exposure to various kinds of chemicals, lack of exercise, smoking, and others. There is only one cause why sickle cell anemia exists, and this will be briefly discussed here.

Hereditary Condition

Hereditary condition is the main cause why sickle cell anemia exists. If both of the parents have sickle cell trait, there would be a hundred percent chance that it will be passed on to their children and that their children will develop the disease. Sickle cell anemia exists because of gene mutation that produces red blood cells or hemoglobin, which is a red iron-rich compound that is responsible for carrying oxygen to the organs and to the entire body. However, if a person is suffering from sickle cell anemia, the red blood cells become sticky. With this, the entire process of distribution of oxygen carried by the red blood cells is delayed or the smaller blood vessels in the body could get clogged.

Sickle cell anemia is a condition that is passed on from generation to generation. This pattern of inheritance is known as autosomal recessive inheritance. This pattern of inheritance means that both of the child’s parents must pass on the abnormal gene in order for the child to develop the disease.

If only the father or mother will pass on the abnormal-shaped gene, the child will not acquire the disease. He will only be considered as someone who has a sickle cell trait. A person that has a sickle cell trait could produce both normal and abnormal red blood cells. This means that he may have sickle cells but without the signs and symptoms associated with the condition. However, the fact will still remain that he is a carrier of the disease. But if both of his parents are carriers, his parents can certainly pass on the disease to him.

If parents are aware that they are carriers of sickle cell anemia, they should be ready for the consequences of having a child, part of which is dealing with sickle cell anemia. This condition involves countless number of signs and symptoms that are quite hard to handle. These symptoms include anemia; episodes of pain, termed as sickle cell crisis; delayed growth; susceptibility to various infections; and hand-foot syndrome.

As for the treatment, frequent blood transfusion is needed. Patients are also required to take antibiotics, to combat infections, and vitamins, to address the anemia. Actually, there are different means to manage sickle cell anemia, and patients can explore these various ways.

What are the Treatments for Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia is a genetic blood-affecting disease. As well know normal red blood cells are round in shape and move easily through cells. People suffering from this disease, however, make hemoglobin differently as it takes on a different shape — a sickle. These abnormally shaped cells may get stuck in blood vessels, clogging them, and causing so much pain to the patient; if left untreated, the tissue that these vessels supply oxygen with will begin to die.

Pharmacologic Treatment

Like any other disease conditions, early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment for sickle cell anemia. More often than not, children are diagnosed and treated during infancy. Although there are some medications that are available for adults, the disease tends to be treated more difficultly due to complications; most especially if treatment is delayed.

Children suffering from sickle cell anemia are usually on penicillin-therapy. It is administered on a regular basis starting from birth up to 5 years of age; this is done primarily to prevent complications like pneumonia that have a tendency to arise due to the abnormalities in blood cells. They may also be given with folic acid supplements.

Adults suffering from severe sickle anemia are treated using Hydroxyurea. This drug helps the body in producing more fetal hemoglobin that is natural substances produced by infants which help battle sickle cell anemia.

Blood Transfusions

Blood transfusion helps in increasing the blood count that is normally the problem with sickle cell anemia. More often than not, it is done to minimize the risks associated with it. Since red blood cells metabolize iron, having too many blood transfusions may result to a buildup of excessive iron. As a result, drugs like Deferasirox are given in order to help reduce the blood’s iron levels.

Fluid Therapy

It is important for everyone suffering from sickle cell anemia to take adequate amounts of fluids. This is primarily because dehydration increases the chances of sickle cell crisis that can be extremely painful to the patient. Sickle cell crisis happens when the abnormal red blood cells clump together, causing pain in that particular part of the body. Those suffering from this disease needs to drink at least 8 cups of water every day.

Other Forms of Treatment

Other forms of treatment are available in treating severe sickle cell anemia and its associated clinical manifestations. Oxygen therapy is usually administered to make it easier for the patients to breathe; thereby relieving chest problems.

Bone marrow transplants are considered to be the main cure for sickle cell anemia. It is done by replacing the bone marrow that produces the abnormally shaped red blood cells with a healthy bone marrow from a donor. It is important to note that this procedure is only recommended for those who are eligible for it; this is primarily because of the risks associated with it.

Pain relievers are also used to treat and relieve pain associated with the sickling of the red blood cells. Pain is caused by the impending tissue damage that is caused by lack of blood flow due to the blockage in the blood vessels.