Sickle cell anemia is a relatively common blood disease in which the red blood cells acquire an abnormal shape. The regular shape of red blood cell is important because it helps it to flow smoothly inside the vessels. When the natural shape of the red blood cell changes, it becomes easy for it to stick to other abnormally shaped red blood cells, leading to problems. Sickle cell anemia can occur in many races, but it's more common in African-Americans.
One of the earliest signs of the disease is swelling of the fingers and toes. This swelling is usually painful and is called " dactylitis" or "sausage digit." It can be present even before the child has turned six months. It is rarely seen in children over two years old. The vessels of the fingers and toes tend to be small, so it's easy for abnormally shaped red blood cells to aggregate and occlude them. This swelling blocks the blood supply to the bone and causes bone death.
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