Anemia - sickle cell; Hemoglobin SS disease (Hb SS); Sickle cell disease
The goal of treatment is to manage and control symptoms, and to limit the number of crises.
Patients with sickle cell disease need ongoing treatment, even when they are not having a painful crisis.
Folic acid supplements should be taken. Folic acid is needed to make red blood cells.
Treatment for a sickle cell crisis includes:
- Blood transfusions (may also be given regularly to prevent stroke)
- Pain medicines
- Plenty of fluids
Other treatments for sickle cell anemia may include:
- Hydroxyurea (Hydrea), a medicine that may help reduce the number of pain episodes (including chest pain and difficulty breathing) in some people
- Antibiotics to prevent bacterial infections, which are common in children with sickle cell disease
Treatments for complications of sickle cell anemia may include:
- Kidney dialysis or
kidney transplantfor kidney disease
- Drug rehabilitation and counseling for psychological complications
Gallbladder removalin those with gallstone disease
Hip replacementfor avascular necrosisof the hip
- Treatments, including surgery, for persistent, painful erections (priapism)
- Surgery for eye problems
- Wound care, zinc oxide, or surgery for leg ulcers
Bone marrow or stem cell transplants can cure sickle cell anemia. However, they are current not an option for most patients. Sickle cell anemia patients are often unable to find well-matched donors.
Joining a support group where members share common experiences can relieve the stress related to caring for someone with a chronic disease. See:
In the past, sickle cell patients often died from organ failure between ages 20 and 40. Thanks to a better understanding and management of the disease, today, patients can live into their 50s or beyond.
Causes of death include organ failure and infection. Some people with the disease experience minor, brief, infrequent episodes. Others experience severe, long-term, frequent episodes with many complications.
- Acute chest syndrome
- Blindness/vision impairment
- Brain and nervous system (neurologic) symptoms and stroke
- Disease of many body systems (kidney, liver, lung)
- Drug (narcotic) abuse
Erectile dysfunction(as a result of priapism)
- Infection, including
pneumonia, gallbladder inflammation ( cholecystitis), bone infection ( osteomyelitis), and urinary tract infection
- Joint destruction
- Leg sores (ulcers)
- Loss of function in the spleen
Parvovirus B19infection, leading to low red blood cell production (aplastic crisis)
- Splenic sequestration syndrome
- Tissue death in the kidney
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have:
- Painful crises
- Any symptoms of infection (fever, body aches, headache, fatigue)