“Sickle Cell Disease & Thalassemia”

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Two of the most common blood disorders among humans are the ‘Sickle Cell Disease’ and ‘Thalassemia.’ Both the diseases have a lot in common, while their distinctive characteristics made them two completely different diseases.
‘Sickle Cell Disease’ or ‘Sickle Cell Anemia’ is a disease that affects the Red Blood Cells of the blood. The disease is characterised by the ‘sickling’ of the RBCs.
Sickle cell disease is caused by a mutation in the hemoglobin gene. In healthy condition, normal RBCs are circular and flexible. The hemoglobin molecules inside the cells are free moving, which help them to maintain their shape and flexibility. Due to their flexible shapes, RBCs are able to move through the blood vessels without any hindrance. In case of a certain mutation in the hemoglobin gene, abnormal hemoglobins called ‘Hemoglobin S.’ are produced. The mutated hemoglobin molecules form chemical bonds with each-other creating long chains. These chains result in a stretching force from the inside of the cell causing the cell to stretch abnormally. The cell then takes an elongated, ‘crescent-moon’ shape and loses its flexibility.
The ‘sickled’ cells, no longer flexible but anomalously rigid, are unable to move freely through the blood capillaries. They block the blood vessels creating obstruction in the regular blood flow. As a result the healthy RBCs cannot pass through the blocked pathway and transport necessary oxygen to the limbs and organs.
‘Thalassemia,’ on the other hand, is a disorder caused by the weakening and destruction of the red blood cells. People with thalassemia make less hemoglobin and fewer circulating red blood cells than normal, which results in mild or severe anemia.
Thalassemia occurs when there is a defect in the produc...

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... particularly associated with people of Mediterranean origin, Arabs (especially Palestinians and people of Palestinian descent), and Asians.
As for the treatment, both the diseases currently don’t have any medicine to cure them. Since both of them are genetic blood disorders, bone marrow transplant at a younger age has almost eighty percent possibility of curing the diseases. As the patient gets older, the possibility decreases gradually. For adult patients, period blood transfusion is necessary to prolong his life. Multiple blood transfusion leads to excess iron content in the blood which has to be removed by medication.
While ‘Sickle Cell Disease’ and ‘Thalassemia’ are separate diseases, they have a lot in common. Starting from causes, symptoms, and treatments, these diseases are almost identical, yet both of them have distinctive features and characteristics.
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