Sickle Cell Anemia: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 8/18/2020

Sickle cell anemia is a genetic (inherited) blood disease that results in the production of an abnormal form of hemoglobin. The abnormal hemoglobin causes the red blood cells to form an abnormal (sickled) shape under conditions of low oxygen. These red blood cells die off more easily than normal red cells, causing anemia (too few red blood cells), and they form clots in small blood vessels, preventing blood supply from effectively reaching body tissues.

Signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia include

Cause of sickle cell anemia

A genetic mutation causes sickle cell anemia. Children who inherit two copies of the sickle gene, one from each parent, have sickle cell anemia.

Other sickle cell anemia symptoms and signs

  • Chest Pain
  • Delayed Development
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent Infections
  • Joint Pain
  • Malaise
  • Pain Crises (Sickle Cell Crisis)
  • Pallor
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Swelling of the Feet or Hands
  • Yellow Skin and Eyes (Jaundice)


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.