Hemoglobin

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What is sickle cell disease?

Sickle cell disease is a genetic condition in which the quality of hemoglobin is defective. This condition can cause abnormal hemoglobin that can result in abnormally-shaped (sickled) red blood cells (see illustration). These abnormal red blood cells cannot easily pass through small blood vessels leading to inadequate oxygen for the tissues of the body.

Sickle cells also have a shorter life span than normal red blood cells (10 to 20 days compared to 120 days). This rapid turnover may result in inadequate time to replace the red blood cells and may result in anemia.

In sickle cell anemia, one defective hemoglobin gene is inherited from each parent. If only one gene is inherited from one parent, then the condition is milder and referred to as sickle cell trait.

Symptoms of sickle cell anemia vary depending on its severity. Patients with sickle cell trait may experience mild, if any, symptoms at all. In sickle cell disease, symptoms are more significant, especially in episodes of acute crisis. These symptoms can include:

Picture of Sickle Cell Red Blood Cell and Healthy Red Blood Cells
Picture of Sickle Cell Red Blood Cell and Healthy Red Blood Cells

Reviewed on 11/4/2015
References
REFERENCES:

“Hemoglobin Concentration (Hb).” Medscape.

“Anemia of Chronic Disease and Renal Failure.” Medscape.

IMAGES:

1.MedicineNet

2.iStock

3.MedicineNet

4.MedicineNet

5.iStock

6.CDC

7.iStock

8.iStock

9.iStock

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