Medical Treatments for Sickle Cell Disease

Medical Treatments for Sickle Cell Disease

For Managing Anemia

Blood Transfusion

Ablood transfusion is when blood is given through a vein. The blood comes from a donor. This procedure increases red blood cells and treats anemia. It helps organs and tissues get the oxygen they need. In certain people, it helps prevent strokes.

For Managing Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency

People with sickle cell disease need extra red blood cells. This is to replace damaged ones. Folic acid helps make red blood cells. Vitamin D and calcium supplements may also be needed.

For Attempting to Cure Sickle Cell Disease

Bone Marrow Transplant

Bone marrow transplants are used to cure sickle cell disease. This involves giving healthy bone marrow to a sickle cell patient. The bone marrow comes from a healthy donor. The donor's bone marrow must be a good match for the patient's. Otherwise, the patient's body will reject the new bone marrow. Drugs are given to prevent the rejection. They will need to be taken for life.

For Preventing Infections

Immunizations

People with sickle cell anemia are at risk for certain infections. It is important that children between the ages of 2 and 5 get the pneumococcal vaccine. They should get all advised vaccines, such as yearly flu shots.

Other advised vaccines are Neisseria meningitidis, Heamophilus Influenzae type B, and hepatitis B.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics may be given in small doses. This is to prevent infections from bacteria. They may be given from 3 months of age until age 5.

For Treating Sickle Cell Crisis

Oxygen

In the hospital, sickle cell crisis is treated with oxygen. It is given through the nostrils or a mask. This helps restore oxygen to the body. It also helps stop other red blood cells from changing into a sickle shape..

For Preventing Blockages in Blood Vessels

Hydroxyurea is a medicine. It may be used to prevent blood clots in blood vessels. It can reduce the number of pain crises.

For Managing Dehydration

IV Fluids

Dehydration can make symptoms and problems worse. In the hospital, IV fluids will be given. The fluids contain potassium, sodium, and sugar. This helps the body keep the balance of fluids it needs.

For Monitoring the Risk of Stroke

Ultrasound

Some people are at risk for stroke due to sickle cell disease. Ultrasound is used to check blood flow through the vessels in the neck. If blood flow rises too fast, blood transfusions can be given. This can reduce the risk of stroke.

For Monitoring Retina Problems in the Eye

Eye exams are needed by age 10. They will check the area at the back of the eye called the retina. It has a lot of minor blood vessels.

References:

Boettger PC, Knupp CL, et al. Vitamin D deficiency in adult sickle cell patients. J Natl Med Assoc. 2017;109(1):36-43.
Complications and treatments. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed January 29, 2021.
How is sickle cell disease treated? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed January 29, 2021.
Meier ER. Treatment options for sickle cell disease. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2018;65(3):427-443.
Pinto VM, Balocco M, et al. Sickle cell disease: a review for the internist. Intern Emerg Med. 2019 Oct;14(7):1051-1064.
Sickle cell disease. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed January 29, 2021.
Sickle cell disease in adults and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sickle-cell-disease-in-adults-and-adolescents . Accessed March 4, 2021.
Sickle cell disease in infants and children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sickle-cell-disease-in-infants-and-children Accessed March 4, 2021.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 3/4/2021

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