Sickle Cell Anemia
Alternate Names : Sickle Cell Trait
What are the treatments for the disease?
Sickle cell anemia is a lifelong chronic disease. There is no cure. Because sickle cell anemia causes so many health problems, persons with the disease need to establish a good relationship with a doctor.
Some treatments for sickle cell anemia help to prevent other complications.
The pneumococcal vaccine helps prevent serious infections by the pneumococcus bacterium.
Preventive antibiotics before a dental procedure are recommended.
For persons who live where malaria is present, preventive medication is recommended.
A daily folic acid supplement is recommended to prevent a deficiency of this nutrient.
An annual eye examination by an eye doctor can detect eye problems early.
Because of the increased risk of infection, it is necessary to have any fever, chills, or other signs of infection checked out by a doctor promptly. Infections are treated with antibiotics.
Fluids are needed to prevent or correct dehydration.
Individuals can develop blood in the urine, called hematuria, that lasts days to weeks. Plenty of fluid is essential to maintain urine flow and to prevent blood clots. If blood clots form in the legs or lungs, blood thinners, or anticoagulants, are used.
Some men develop priapism, a painful and prolonged erection of the penis. Repeated episodes can lead to impotence, which can be helped with a penile prosthesis.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
General supportive care, such as pain control and fluids, has no specific side effects.
Blood thinners used to treat blood clots can cause excessive bleeding.
Antibiotics used to treat infection may also have side effects. These include rashes, gastrointestinal symptoms, and even anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.
Chronic use of narcotics to relieve pain can sometimes lead to dependence and addiction.
What happens after treatment for the disease?
After treatment of a specific problem, such as a painful crisis or an infection, the person may have periods of time with few symptoms.
How is the disease monitored?
There is no specific test for monitoring sickle cell anemia. A person's symptoms and certain lab tests are the best ways to monitor the disease.