Symptoms of sickle cell disease appear in a baby's first year of life.
The disease causes bouts of pain. These are called pain crises. Symptoms depend on which tissues or organs are affected.
Symptoms may be:
- Swollen hands and feet
Pain in the:
- Arms and legs
- Bones and joints
- Penis—from long erections
Symptoms of anemia, such as:
- Tiredness, headache, or lightheadedness
- Breathing problems
- Yellowish eyes and skin—jaundice
Sickle cell disease can lead to other conditions. They may be:
- Heart and blood vessel problems, such as:
- Skin and gum problems
- Vision problems
- Kidney infections and kidney damage
- Bone problems
- Problems with the spleen, liver, or gallbladder
- Delayed puberty
- Learning and behavior problems
Pain crisis can be triggered by:
- Changes in oxygen levels and air pressure
- Fever or infection
Pinto VM, Balocco M, Quintino, et al. Sickle cell disease: a review for the internist. Intern Emerg Med. 2019 Oct;14(7):1051-1064.
Sickle cell disease. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sickle-cell-anemia.html. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Sickle cell disease in adults and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sickle-cell-disease-in-adults-and-adolescents . Accessed March 3, 2021.
Sickle cell disease in infants and children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sickle-cell-disease-in-infants-and-children Accessed March 3, 2021.
What are the signs and symptoms of sickle cell disease? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sca/signs. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD Last Updated: 3/3/2021