How is sickle cell disease treated?
In most people, sickle cell disease cannot be cured, so treatment aims to relieve symptoms and prevent complications. In certain rare cases, a bone marrow transplant may cure sickle cell disease, but this procedure requires a bone marrow donor and is risky. It usually is only suggested for people who suffer from severe symptoms or frequent complications.
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor will recommend the best treatment options for you. Your doctor may recommend medicines such as antibiotics and over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers. Blood transfusions can help increase the number of healthy, normal red blood cells in the blood, which helps relieve symptoms. Oxygen therapy (breathing oxygen through a mask) may also help relieve symptoms.
Your doctor will probably want to see you or your child often for blood tests and to check for complications.
What else can I do to control my symptoms?
A heating pad, hot bath, rest or massage might help relieve any pain. Physical therapy to relax and strengthen your muscles and joints might also lessen your pain. Individual counseling, self-hypnosis and activities to keep you from thinking about pain (such as watching television or talking on the telephone) might also help.
It's important for you to have a positive attitude, create a supportive environment, and develop coping skills to help you deal with the disease. Strong family relationships and close personal friends can be helpful. A support group can also help you cope with the disease.
Work with your family doctor to set goals for coping with your symptoms. Becoming more actively involved in your treatment will help you better manage the disease.
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Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff