Managing Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle cell disease has many variations and affects every person differently. You are your own best advocate! Educate yourself on the current treatment options for sickle cell disease. Increase your awareness and take your health options into your own hands so that you can be informed as you work with your healthcare team to develop a plan specific to your needs.
Who Is on Your Health Care Team?
Your GP and Primary Care Providers role is to serve as your routine health care provider. They handle your care from pediatrics to adulthood and act as a liaison between your specialists and health care team. Having a health care provider that is familiar with sickle cell anemia and the effects it can have on your body is ideal but not always a guarantee.
In addition to your primary care provider sickle cell patients should also see a hematologist for routine blood tests to ensure proper management of their condition. If patients are on pharmacological medication, it is especially important to have routine blood work that measures your hemoglobin and white blood cell counts.
Health Care providers often suggest vitamins like Folic acid to aid Sickle Cell patients in combating symptoms characteristic of the condition. Folic acid is a synthetic pharmacological source of the vitamin Folate also known as Vitamin B9 which is often found in green leafy vegetables, nuts, and grains.
Sickle cell disease has many variations and affects every person differently. The current treatments for sickle cell are focused on managing the symptoms of the condition, as research is ongoing to identify a better course of treatment to alleviate symptoms for patients.
Hydroxyurea: Originally hydroxyurea was used as a oral medication for several types of cancer in 2017 the FDA approved its use for sickle cell disease patients. Hydroxyurea is used to raise the level of fetal hemoglobin present in the body, which in turn benefits the bodies red blood cells by keeping their shape round, squishy and flexible.
Chronic Pain Management: NSAID’S like Ibuprofen Diclofenac and opioids like morphine Depending on the pain level health care providers typically administer
Penicillin: Prescribed in sickle cell patients beginning from infancy to 5 years of age. Penicillin is used to help fight the possibility of infection in children until they are vaccinated at school age. Penicillin also helps protect sickle cell patients who are immunocompromised, whether by side effect of prolonged medication use or illness.
Blood Transfusions are used to help alleviate sickle cell complications in symptomatic patients that are deemed high risk. There are two types of transfusions currently offered to sickle cell patients: A red blood cell exchange and a simple transfusion; each carries its own risks and side effects such as infection, an adverse immune response to the antigens in donated blood, and iron overload, which is an excessive build up of iron in the body.
Is There a Cure for Sickle Cell
- Unfortunately, Not Yet.
Hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT)
There have been instances where sickle cell patients aged anywhere form children, teenagers to adults have received stem cell transplants that have in some instances successfully reversed the symptoms of sickle cell disease.
Bone Marrow Transplants are currently the only identified cure for sickle cell disease. A Bone marrow transport procedure transplants healthy bone marrow donated from a genetically compatible donor, usually a sibling or a donation from a parent. These procedures are c
complicated and considered very risky as the preparation for such a procedure involves using chemotherapy and medications to suppress the patient’s immune system to reduce chances of rejection, in preparation for their new bone marrow.