Sickle cell anemia may only be cured by a bone marrow transplant, though that process involves much risk. Usually, treatment focuses on relieving sickle cell anemia symptoms and preventing further complications. Antibiotics are often prescribed to children to protect against infection. To increase the number of healthy red blood cells, you may be prescribed a drug called hydroxyurea, or you may be advised to have a blood transfusion. To ease the pain caused by obstructions of sickle cells in small veins, doctors often recommend over the counter pain relievers and application heat to the affected areas.
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Honor Society of Nursing (STTI) answered
General: There is no cure for sickle cell disease (SCD), but treatment may help relieve symptoms. Treatment may include the administration of oxygen, pain-relieving drugs, and oral and intravenous fluids to reduce pain and prevent complications.
Routine eye examinations are advised, as vision problems may result when the vessels in the back of the eye become blocked. Laser surgery may be used to correct eye problems and prevent vision loss.
Blood transfusions: Blood transfusions may greatly reduce the risk of stroke in children with SCD. However, regular transfusions carry major risks, including blood infections and iron buildup in the body. Treatment with blood transfusions is not routine and should only be used after careful consultation with physicians who specialize in blood disorders.
Hydroxyurea (Droxia™ or Hydrea®): A cancer drug called hydroxyurea (Droxia™ or Hydrea®) is also used to treat sickle cell anemia in adults.
Pain relievers: Pain crises are treated according to symptoms with common pain relievers (called analgesics). These may include acetaminophen (Tylenol®), ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®), and aspirin. Severe pain may require treatment with opioid (narcotic) drugs. Side effects of opiate use include itching, excessive thirst, nausea, fatigue, and opiate withdrawal. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) may relieve the itching associated with opioid use. The most severe pain crises may require hospital stays and in-patient opioid treatment.
Antimicrobials: Infections associated with SCD may be treated with antibiotics. The types of antibiotics given will depend on the infection.
Vaccinations: Patients with SCD, particularly young children and infants, should receive routine vaccinations as well as additional vaccinations. These may include an annual influenza (flu) vaccine beginning at six months of age, a pneumococcal vaccine at ages two and five, and the meningococcal vaccine (which protects against meningitis) at age five.
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