What makes sickle cell anemia so significant?

Chronic disease. Sickle cell disease is so significant in that it is a chronic disease that affects almost every organ. Like diabetes, the effects of sickle cell, crises, and transfusions can permanently affect the heart, the kidneys, the liver, the lungs, and the brain.
Complications. Sickle cell anemia is associated with major life-threatening complications. These include stroke, pneumonias, anemia, chest syndrome, eye problems, bone pain, transfusion requirements, etc. A well supported treatment plan is essential for management and some patients benefit with treatments such as Hydrea (hydroxyurea) and transplant.

Related Questions

How come clinical signs in sickle cell anemia don't appear until the child is a year old?

Fetal hemoglobin. Sickle cell disease results from a mutation in the beta hemoglobin gene. In infants, the beta hemoglobin gene is largely not used by the body (the gene is "off"). Instead, babies use a different gene named gamma hemoglobin. The gamma hemoglobin does not carry the sickle mutation. During the 1st year of life, the body gradually switches from using gamma to beta. Thus, symptoms can be delayed.

I'm having a tough time with my sickle cell anemia. I'm hurting everyday. I don't know what to do.

Sickle cell anemia. What you need to do is see your hematology specialist as soon as you can. If you are not satisfied with this doctor ask your family or friends to tell you which other doctor they think is better. Please keep me informed.
Sickle Cell. If you are having pain every day there is a good chance you are in crisis. You need to see a physician right now. Go to the ER, see your hematologist today, but get seen.
Sickle cell pain. Acute pain is due to vaso-occlusion from the deformed red cells. Take folic acid, stay hydrated. For the pain crisis, hospitalization with IV hydration and use of opioid is often required. Hydroxyurea may be helpful for frequent pain crisis. Chronic sickle cell pain may also come from complications such as avascular necrosis, ulcers, etc. So, treating these conditions is important as well.

How come clinical signs in sickle cell anemia don't appear until the child is at least 12 months old?

Maturing hemoglobin. The hemoglobin involved with sickle cell develops after birth. Children are born with a different hemoglobin type and this changes over the first 3-6 months to be sickle hemoglobin. This is what delays the syptoms of sickle cell.