Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest incidence of both malaria and sickle cell anemia (SCA). However, it can also be found in some areas of Southeast Asia and Central and South America. Since malaria affects the infected person’s red blood cells. Some RBC conditions have changed over time to offer malaria protection. One of these diseases is sickle cell trait (SCT). It results from a gene mutation in haemoglobin, the part of RBCs responsible for carrying oxygen. However, those with sickle cell disease (SCD), which has two copies of the gene mutation, do not have the same protection. This article focuses on sickle cell anaemia, whether it was brought on by malaria, and how to treat sickle cell anaemia.
What exactly is sickle cell anaemia?
Sickle cell anaemia is the most fatal form of sickle cell disease, an inherited blood condition. The condition primarily affects the red blood cells, turning them from flexible round discs into stiff, gooey sickled cells. These sickle cells prevent red blood cells from carrying oxygen throughout your body as they should. Compared to sickled red blood cells, normal red blood cells last longer. Due to a lack of sufficient healthy red blood cells, you consequently experience anaemia, the condition from which sickle cell anaemia gets its name. Additionally, when they move through tiny blood vessels, they get stuck and obstruct the flow of blood. Along with pain, this can lead to infection, acute chest syndrome, stroke, and other serious complications.
Is sickle cell anaemia brought on by malaria?
No, despite the fact that the sickle cell anemia and malaria are related, malaria does not lead to sickle cell malaria. The geographic distribution of sickle cell mutations and malaria overlaps significantly. The regions of the world with high rates of sickle cell mutations are also those with high rates of malaria. The HBB gene, which is linked to the sickle cell trait, has evolved to become more malaria protective.
It’s possible that individuals with SCD also benefit from the malaria protection provided by the SC trait. However, this benefit is greatly outweighed by the risks connected with SCD. Patients with sickle cell anaemia (SCA), who are genetically identical to the sickle gene, are particularly vulnerable to the deadly effects of malaria.
This is due to the fact that malaria can cause a sickle cell crisis, which may lead to a more severe form of anaemia, lower oxygen levels in body tissues, jaundice, lactic acidosis, and renal failure. Additionally, sickle cell disease has a negative impact on spleen health.
In spite of the fact that they are born with some protection from malaria, children with sickle cell anaemia (SCA) are still susceptible to severe symptoms from even very low levels of malarial infection.
How should SCA be treated?
The most common treatments for sickle cell anaemia prescribed by medical professionals include blood transfusions and drugs that lessen symptoms brought on by sickle cell anaemia complications. In some children and teenagers, a stem cell transplant may be able to cure the disease.
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