Sickle cell anemia is a blood disease suffered by some people. The disease is inherited, rather than contracted, and involves a person’s red blood cells. Normal red blood cells are circular and flexible. This allows them to travel effectively through a person’s blood vessels. However, for those with sickle cell anemia, their red blood cells are crescent-shaped, sticky and inflexible. This means they can become trapped in small blood vessels, slowing or even blocking the passage of red blood cells and through that the flow of oxygen to a person’s system.
Sickle cell anemia is an incurable disease. It causes anemia, which can result in fatigue. It can also cause pain, that can sometimes become severe and can go on for as little as a few hours to as much as weeks. Some people with sickle cell anemia have episodes of pains dozens of times a year, sometimes requiring hospitalization. Sickle cell anemia can also cause a person’s hands and feet to become painful and swollen, and it can cause a person to suffer frequent infections, some of which can be life-threatening.
There are also a number of complications that could result from sickle cell anemia. One complication is a stroke, which could occur if the flow of blood to a person’s brain is blocked. Another complication is acute chest syndrome, which causes fever, pain in a person’s chest and could make it difficult for a person to breathe. Other complications include pulmonary hypertension and organ damage, which could be fatal. Further complications include blindness, leg ulcers, gallstones and priapism.
As you can see, sickle cell anemia can be a disabling illness. The Social Security Administration recognizes this and includes it in its listing of impairments. Therefore, those who suffer from sickle cell anemia and cannot work may want to look into the possibility of seeking Social Security disability benefits.
Source: Mayo Clinic, “Sickle cell anemia,” Accessed Jan. 1, 2016