Erythrocytes and How They Can Be Affected
Erythrocytes or red blood cells are very important to how our bodies function, they bring oxygen from our lungs to our bodies tissues and exchange it out for carbon dioxide. The red blood cells then bring the carbon dioxide to the lungs to be expelled out of the body. There are a few disorders that I will be talking about which includes sickle cell anemia, hereditary spherocytosis, and hemolytic anemia.
One of the conditions that affects erythrocytes is sickle cell anemia. This disorder is inherited and what happens is that the red blood cells start to get misshaped resembling the shape of a crescent moon. There are some healthy red blood cell, however, there isn’t enough healthy cells to carry oxygen throughout the body like normal. In addition, the erythrocyte are shaped specifically to be flexible and easily move through blood vessels. When someone has sickle cell anemia the crescent shape makes it much easier to block the blood vessels and then nothing can get through that area which can cause that area to start dying because it isn’t getting any oxygen. Other symptoms of a clogged blood vessel are pain, infection, acute chest syndrome and a stroke. Diagnosis usually happens at birth from a simple blood test, the child is at more risk for infection and other health risks so it is important to diagnosis them as soon as possible. There is no single best treatment for sickle cell anemia it depends on a number of things however, there is only one cure. The only cure for sickle cell anemia is a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, this is the process of putting healthy cells from the donor and putting them into someone whose bone marrow is not working correctly. Even though this is the only cure it is very dangerous and has a lot of serious side affects which includes death, this is only used in severe cases where there isn’t much damage to the organ.
Hereditary spherocytosis is another condition that affects erythrocytes. One way someone can have this disease is a mutation of their genes. Their body gives instructions to make a certain protein that exists on the membranes of red blood cells. The main function of these proteins are that they carry molecules in and out of the cell, keep the cells structure and help attach to other proteins because of the gene mutation the erythrocytes end up having an abnormal spherical shape which decreases the flexibility. The cells that end up having the misshapen feature and are called spherocytes they are sent to the spleen to be destroyed which results in a shortage of red blood cells and too many cells in the spleen. The treatment for hereditary spherocytosis is all dependant on how severe the condition is. Folate therapy is recommended for moderate to severe anemia. In the most severe cases a red blood cell transfusion may be recommended if the patient has an infection, is pregnant, or are in their first year of life. Removal of the spleen is only performed in a severe case of hereditary spherocytosis or if the patient has a moderate to severe case however, they also have significant anemia and gallstone complications as well.
Hemolytic anemia is the last condition that I researched, it is when erythrocytes are broken down faster than they can be made. This causes your tissues to not get enough oxygen and your body to not be able to function correctly. There are two ways someone can get hemolytic anemia which include inherited or acquired. Inherited hemolytic anemia is when the patient gets the disorder from their parents passing down the gene. Two common causes are sickle cell anemia and thalassemia that cause this anemia. Acquired hemolytic anemia is when a patient develops the disorder later in life. This can be causes by an infection, medicines like penicillin and acetaminophen, blood cancers, autoimmune disorders, tumors, or a severe reaction to a blood transfusion. Some of these are temporary and other types can become lifelong and can go away and come back.
These are only a few disorders that effect how red blood cells function, there are many more out there. Even a little shift in how our red blood cells regenerate, function and break down causes a huge shift in how our body functions. Our bodies rely on red blood cells for oxygen and it can be really dangerous if there is a blockage due to the sickle cell disease or if they are just being broken down to fast like hemolytic anemia.
“Hemolytic Anemia.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/hemolytic-anemia#:~:text=Hemolytic%20anemia%20is%20a%20disorder,blood%20cells%2C%20you%20have%20anemia.
“What Is Sickle Cell Disease?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Dec. 2020, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/facts.html.
“Hereditary Spherocytosis.” Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6639/hereditary-spherocytosis.