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Sickle cell anemia
A genetic blood disease resulting from the presence of an abnormal form of hemoglobin, namely hemoglobin S. Hemoglobin is the molecule in red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to the farthest areas of the body. Anemia is the condition of having less than the normal number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. The oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is, therefore, decreased. Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a term used to describe a number of diseases called hemoglopathies, of which Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA) is the most common. SCA is a severe, chronic, incurable anemia characterized by sickle-shaped Red Blood Cells (RBCs) and it results into acute and chronic organ failure. RBCs with sickle cell hemoglobin (Hb s) change and become crescent shaped with the following conditions; low oxygen tension, dehydration and acidosis (Lewis & Bear, 2002).
Treatment of sickle cell anemia
According to Lewis & Bear (2002), treatment of sickle cell anemia is both symptomatic and supportive, since there is no cure. Thus preventive measures are employed to manage the various symptoms of sickle cell anemia such as fever, shortness of breath, progressive fatigue and sudden loss of sensations. These measures include: bone marrow transplants which have been successful on a few children, drug hydroxyurea that reduces the number of pain crises in about 50% of severely affected adults. Lewis & Bear (2002) highlight that increase in the fluid intake by the patient since dehydration increases sickling process, sufficient nutrition to maximize patient's resistance to infection and also provides a significant resource for healing and managing anemia. Others measures for managing sickle cell anemia include an understanding of symptoms that call for urgent medical care such as fever and shortness of breath, educating teachers and other staff of basic concerns of such patients during sports and school trips.
Blood pressure (BP) is the force exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of the blood vessels and is one of the principal vital signs i.e. the measurements of the body's most fundamental functions such as pulse rate, body temperature and respiration rate. A person's BP is usually expressed in terms of the systolic pressure (maximum) over diastolic pressure (minimum) (mmHg), for example 120/80.BP rises with exercise, and abnormally rises with mental or emotional stress. BP is lowered with rest, relaxation and meditation and is abnormally lowered by adrenal fatigue (Forleo, 2008).
BP gives one valuable data for detecting medical problems, monitoring and adjusting treatment regimens, forecast personal care needs, an individual's fitness for work and screening for and quantifying disability in an individual. BP is usually the highest in the brachial arteries, where it is classically taken yielding the ideal BP reading of 120/80, (Forleo, 2008). 140/90 or above is considered high BP or hypertension while BP lower than 90/60 is considered low blood pressure or hypotension. BP is measured with a BP cuff and stethoscope by a healthcare provider. Two numbers are recorded when measuring BP, the higher number i.e. systolic pressure and the lower number i.e. diastolic pressure.
The patient has to made to understand that he or she cannot measure their own BP unless an electronic BP monitoring device is used. BP should not be taken after intense physical activities since the results will not reflect the normal levels. A patient should rest for a few minutes and sit comfortably before taking the measurement. The health service provider should then wrap the cuff smoothly around the upper part of the arm; the cuff should be sized to fit effortlessly. The higher number or systolic pressure refers to the force inside the artery when the heart contracts and pumps blood through the body. The lower number or diastolic pressure is the force inside the artery when the heart is at rest and is filling with blood. Both pressures are recorded as mmHg (Millimeters of Mercury). This recording shows how high the mercury column is raised by the pressure of the blood.
Though sickle cell anemia is a disease that is incurable, specific preventive measures can be undertaken by the patient's significant others and the teachers in the learning institutions to ensure these patients live the highest level of productive life possible. People need to consider the BP measurements whether high or low as symptoms to health problems in future rather than considering them as a disease. In this way individuals can work towards achieving and maintaining an optimal BP measurement by taking adequate nutrition and avoiding mental or emotional stress.