Many. Basically, sickle cell disease causes disturbance of the blood vessels, typically smaller vessels. Over time, this can cause many problems. Painful episodes, eye problems, lung problems (similar to pneumonia), strokes, decreased spleen function (which can cause severe infections), kidney problems, and o ther problems. Sickle cell disease is not the same in all people. Some have milder symptoms.
Reduced O2 capacity. Sickle cells do not carry oxygen the way they are supposed to. This results in less oxygen carryign capacity, and the cells will deform. As they deform, they get stuck in the capillaries -- which causes pain for the area affected. There are some forms of cancer that are related to sickle cell anemia, but they are rare.
Which treatment. There are many treatments for sickle cell. I will discuss one. Doctors are studying the long-term effects of Hydroxyurea on people who have sickle cell anemia. Studies in very young children have shown that Hydroxyurea can be given safely and that it improves anemia and Hemoglobin F levels while reducing complications of sickle cell anemia. Read more...