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Sickle Cell Anemia

Other Problems

Males with sickle cell anemia may experience a condition called priapism. (Priapism is characterized by a persistent and painful erection of the penis.) Due to blood vessel blockage by sickle cells, blood is trapped in the tissue of the penis. Damage to this tissue can result in permanent impotence in adults.

Both genders may experience kidney damage. The environment in the kidney is particularly conducive for sickle cell formation; even otherwise asymptomatic carriers may experience some level of kidney damage. Kidney damage is indicated by blood in the urine, incontinence, and enlarged kidneys.

Jaundice and an enlarged liver are also commonly associated with sickle cell anemia. Jaundice, indicated by a yellow tone in the skin and eyes, may occur if bilirubin levels increase. Bilirubin is the final product of hemoglobin degradation, and is typically removed from the bloodstream by the liver. Bilirubin levels often increase with high levels of red blood cell destruction, but jaundice can also be a sign of a poorly functioning liver.

Some individuals with sickle cell anemia may experience vision problems. The blood vessels that feed into the retina—the tissue at the back of the eyeball—may be blocked by sickle cells. New blood vessel can form around the blockages, but these vessels are typically weak or otherwise defective. Bleeding, scarring, and retinal detachment may eventually lead to blindness.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Semiotics to SmeltingSickle Cell Anemia - Hemoglobin Structure, Sickle Cell Hemoglobin, Sickle Cell Anemia, Affected Populations, Causes And Symptoms - Delayed growth, Acute chest syndrome, Treatment, Alternative treatment