Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Sickle Cell Disease: Acute Chest Syndrome

Font Size

Topic Overview

Acute chest syndrome is a lung-related complication of sickle cell disease that can lower the levels of oxygen in the blood and can be life-threatening. Repeat occurrences of acute chest syndrome can cause lung damage. This condition develops more often in young children but is usually more severe in adults.

Symptoms of acute chest syndrome can include:

Recommended Related to

Anemia of Chronic Disease

Important It is possible that the main title of the report Anemia of Chronic Disease is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

Read the Anemia of Chronic Disease article > >

  • Cough.
  • Chest pain.
  • Fever.
  • Shortness of breath.

Symptoms require emergency evaluation and treatment. Because a person with acute chest syndrome can deteriorate rapidly, a hospital stay is usually needed. Some cases are mild and will need little more than careful observation. More severe cases may need treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU) of the hospital.

Although its cause is not fully understood, acute chest syndrome is more likely to develop after:

  • An infection.
  • A sickle cell crisis (particularly one in the chest area that causes shallow breathing).
  • Use of general anesthesia for surgery.
  • A reduction of normal blood flow to part of the lungs (caused by a blood clot).
  • Pain treatment with heavy doses of opiate medicine.

Treatment of acute chest syndrome includes:

  • Encouraging deep breathing. This is especially important when a person has chest pain or drowsiness and shallow breathing from opiate medicine.
  • Receiving antibiotic therapy, oxygen, pain medicines, and blood transfusions.
  • Monitoring the amount of fluids being consumed, because fluids may build up in the lungs (pulmonary edema) during acute chest syndrome.
1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 01, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Sickle Cell Disease: Acute Chest Syndrome Topics

Hot Topics

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Can you catch one?
Woman sitting in front of UV lights
Is yours working?
woman using breath spray
What's causing yours?
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
bowl of yogurt with heart shape
Eat for a healthy heart.
woman doing pushups
To help you get fit.
Colored x-ray of tooth decay
Know what to look for.
Woman sitting with child
Do you know the symptoms?
mosquito
Stings, bites, burns, and more.
Allentown, PA
Are you living in one?
Thyroid exam
See how much you know.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.