Treatment involves getting routine tests to monitor health, managing pain events (crises), and treating related health problems as they arise.
for severe cases of
sickle cell disease may include medicines. For more information, see Medications.
Treatment for children
When parents learn that their
sickle cell disease, it's the beginning of a lifelong
education process. Knowing as much as you can about the disease can help you
control symptoms as they arise and know what to do in emergency situations.
- Routine childhood
immunizations. Immunizations in adulthood are important too.
antibiotics from 2 months to 5 years of age to prevent life-threatening infections. This practice stops at age 5 because older children don't have as many severe infections.
- Multivitamin supplements with iron during infancy.
- Folic acid supplements daily.
- Protein supplements if there is a lag in weight gain.
Starting at age 2 years, your child should get screened
every now and then with a
This test measures blood flow in the arteries of the head and neck. If test
results show a high chance for
stroke, your child may get
blood transfusions to lower the risk.1
Tests to monitor treatment
Routine tests include:
Pain is sometimes a chronic problem for people with
sickle cell disease. Your doctor or a
pain treatment specialist can help you develop pain
management skills. These skills include distraction,
guided imagery, deep breathing,
relaxation, and positive self-talk.
Painful events can happen suddenly and unpredictably and can
become life-threatening. Bouts of severe pain can last for hours to days and
are difficult to treat. They're exhausting for caregivers as well as for the
person in pain. For more information, see the topic
Severe episodes of prolonged erection
of the penis (priapism) need evaluation by your doctor. Treatment
may include fluids (hydration), pain medicines, treatment by a
urologist, and blood transfusions.
There are also things you can do at home to manage pain. To learn more, see Home Treatment.
What to think about
A series of blood
transfusions is the treatment of choice to prevent strokes and treat other
aspects of sickle cell disease. Stem cell transplant is a rare treatment. For more information, see Other Treatment.
People with sickle cell
disease should avoid contact with anyone suspected of having
fifth disease, which is caused by parvovirus.
Parvovirus can cause the body to temporarily stop making blood cells, a severe
life-threatening problem in someone who has sickle cell disease.
Aplastic anemia can occur as a result of a shortage
of red blood cells. It can come on suddenly and is life-threatening if not
People with sickle cell disease and their
families face ongoing
stress. For help coping, see Home Treatment.