What is a Sickle Cell Trait?
Sickle cell trait is a defect in the genetic make-up of an individual. This results in the occurrence of abnormally sickle-shaped red blood cells with a defective hemoglobin chain (HbS). The patient suffering from sickle cell disease often suffers from oxygen deficiency to various vital organs of the body.
Is it completely Curable?
There is no sure shot cure for genetic disorders although a variety of treatment options have been tried. Bone marrow transplant has shown some promising results but as of now, it is not that commonly used. It is contraindicated in patients suffering from severe disease. Bone marrow transplantation as sickle cell anemia treatment has shown the most promising results in children who are below the age of 16 years due to fewer complications.
How are patients with the disease treated?
No matter how trivial the disease is, our doctors can take care of it. There is no particular sickle cell anemia treatment but symptomatic relief is possible. Sickle cell anemia treatment is a lifelong thing. The treatment involves a number of specialists such as a pediatrician, a hematologist, a cardiologist, a pulmonologist, a neurologist and an emergency medicine doctor.
Loading the patient with the optimal amount of intravenous fluids to help against the rehydration is an important measure. This helps the RBCs to return to their normal state. This sickle cell anemia treatment helps to prevent RBCs to turn back to being sickle shaped due to dehydration.
Blood transfusions have greatly proved to be a helpful sickle cell anemia treatment measure. It helps to improve the blood oxygen and facilitate the transport of nutrients to all parts of the body. Before the transfusion, packed red cells are removed from the donor blood. Patients receiving a lot of blood transfusions may also require iron chelation therapy to reduce the excess amount of iron from the body.
Sickle cell anemia treatment also involves taking care of persistent infectious conditions. It is an imperative part of managing the crisis. The patient is given antibiotics as soon as an infection is detected as the stress of infection can cause complications for the patients. The patients are more prone to infections than other patients. So as a part of the sickle cell anemia treatment, immunizations for various types of common infections can be given. Vaccines may include “Hepatitis-B vaccine” or the annual flu vaccine.
Pain medications are also a part of sickle cell anemia treatment. These are routinely prescribed by the physician. The medication may get as strong as morphine during the crisis. Some over the counter drugs can also be used.
Since there is a lack of oxygen, provision of supplemental oxygen through a mask has given some positive results in the sickle cell anemia treatment.
Some drugs that increase the production of fetal hemoglobin are being used in sickle cell anemia treatment. These reduce the requirement for blood transfusions. The drug of choice is hydroxyurea. It has shown some promising results in these patients. Hydroxycarbamide can also be used to lower other blood cells such as white cells or the platelets. But in order to use it’s regular blood tests are mandatory.
Other necessary surgeries and treatment modalities can be used for other complications such as the gallstones, or the heart and chest problems, priapism, leg ulcers, or stroke, or the acute chest syndrome.
What are the other home-based needs of the patients?
Along with these medical measures, any disease requires a long-term home-based care regime. It is always difficult for the patient to recover or feel better without the support of their family and friends. Sickle cell anemia treatment even though its symptomatic requires regular care of the patient. Some of the common measures include taking folic acid supplements, using heating pads for pain relief, drinking an adequate amount of water to counteract dehydration etc. Exercising regularly and reducing stress also helps a lot.
Sickle cell anemia treatment is a tricky thing to do. Doctors are trained to do that but it is always difficult for the caregivers. Any slight chance of infection should be treated promptly and adequately with doctor’s intervention.
Can it be prevented?
All of this considered the best Sickle Cell Anemia treatment is prevention. This calls for mandatory genetic counseling for a couple. Even individuals should get to know their sickle cell gene status.
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