When treating sickle cell disease, early intervention is key to fighting and/or preventing infections caused by the disease. This is why it is extremely important to screen all newborns for the disease, and begin treatment for those who test positive as early as possible.
Symptomatic episodes of sickle cell disease, such as severe pain crises, are often triggered by factors such as changes in weather, psychosocial stressors, infections, smoking, inadequate hydration and lack of rest.
More: Sickle Cell Info Sheet
Acute treatment for sickle cell disease is necessary when a patient is experiencing a symptomatic episode. This treatment often involves rehydration through the use of IV fluids, IV pain medications and oxygen therapy, if needed. It is also important to look for anything that may have caused the pain crisis, such as an infection, and treat it accordingly.
Long term treatment of sickle cell disease involves a combination of patient education on proper lifestyle modifications, medication known as hydroxyurea, folate vitamin replacement and blood transfusions. These treatments are focused on preventing symptomatic episodes, decreasing occurrence of commonly related health conditions and increasing red blood cell production.
Our community is fortunate, as Cone Health is opening the second comprehensive sickle cell medical center in the nation this spring, dedicated to providing exceptional care for sickle cell disease patients throughout the area.
Dr. Eric Dean is the medical director of the Cone Health Sickle Cell Medical Center. Dr. Dean is a 1979 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. He specializes in internal medicine, completing his residency at North Carolina Memorial Hospital.