Sickle Cell Disease | Complications

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What problems can result from sickle cell disease?

Sickle cells can get stuck in blood vessels and keep blood from reaching parts of the body. This causes pain and can damage the body's internal organs. Blocked blood vessels in the arms, legs, chest or abdomen can cause strong pain. When sickle cells block blood flow to organs and cause pain and other problems, this is called a "sickle cell crisis," or a "pain crisis."

Blocked blood vessels in the brain can cause a stroke. This can cause brain cells to die. If you notice that a person who has sickle cell disease has weakness in an arm or leg, has slurred speech, refuses to walk, or has unusual behavior, it may be a sign of a stroke; take him or her to the emergency room right away.

People who have sickle cell disease might get more infections because their spleen is damaged by sickle cells. (One of the spleen's main jobs is to protect against infection.)

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Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 01/11
Created: 09/90

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