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Sickle Cell Disease

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Self-care and medical treatment can help you manage pain and avoid other health problems.

Early treatment includes daily antibiotics from 2 months to 5 years of age to help prevent infections. Routine childhood and adult immunizations are also important.

Managing pain is often a big part of having sickle cell disease. You can prepare for a painful event ahead of time by creating a pain management plan with your doctor. The plan should include what you can do at home to relieve pain for yourself or your child. The plan should also tell you when it is best to call a doctor or go to a hospital.

Some people need regular blood transfusions to lower the risk of stroke and treat anemia and other problems. Some people take medicine to prevent complications. In rare cases, a stem cell transplant might be an option.

Regular checkups are an important part of life with this disease. People with sickle cell disease need a good working relationship with a doctor who is an expert in treating it.

  • Learn what triggers, or sets off, painful events called sickle cell crises. Triggers often include cold temperatures, wind, dehydration, and too much exercise. Low oxygen caused by cigarette smoke, high altitude, and plane flights is another common trigger.
  • People with sickle cell disease and their families face ongoing stress. A support network can help ease stress and worry. Ask your doctor if there is a support group in your area.
  • Make sure that your child takes antibiotics regularly until age 5 to prevent infections. And make sure he or she receives all the usual immunizations on schedule.
  • Your child can take part in normal school activities. Make sure that teachers understand your child's special needs, like needing frequent drinks and bathroom trips and avoiding overexertion and cold temperatures.

Learning about sickle cell disease:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Ongoing concerns:

Living with sickle cell disease:


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 17, 2014
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.
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