Bone marrow transplant offers the only potential treatment for sickle cell anemia. However finding a donor is tough and the procedure has serious threats related to it, including death.
Treatments for Sickle Cell Anemia Disease
As a result, treatment for sickle cell anemia is generally aimed at preventing crises, relieving symptoms and preventing complications. If you have sickle cell anemia, you’ll need to make regular sees to your doctor to check your red cell count and monitor your health. Treatments may include medications to reduce pain and prevent complications, blood transfusions and extra oxygen, in addition to a bone marrow transplant.
Medications used to treat sickle cell anemia include:
- Antibiotics. Children with sickle cell anemia might start taking the antibiotic penicillin when they’re about 2 months of age and continue taking it till they’re at least 5 years of ages. Doing so helps avoid infections, such as pneumonia, which can be life-threatening to a baby or child with sickle cell anemia. Antibiotics might also help adults with sickle cell anemia fight specific infections.
- Pain-relieving medications. To eliminate pain during a sickle crisis, your doctor may advise over-the-counter pain relievers and application of heat to the affected area. You may also need stronger prescription pain medication.
- Hydroxyurea (Droxia, Hydrea). When taken daily, hydroxyurea reduces the frequency of painful crises and may reduce the requirement for blood transfusions. Hydroxyurea seems to work by stimulating production of fetal hemoglobin– a type of hemoglobin discovered in babies that helps avoid the formation of sickle cells. Hydroxyurea increases your risk of infections, and there is some issue that long-lasting use of this drug may cause growths or leukemia in particular individuals. Nevertheless, this hasn’t yet been seen in research studies of the drug. Hydroxyurea was at first used just for adults with severe sickle cell anemia. Studies on children have revealed that the drug might avoid some of the serious complications associated with sickle cell anemia. But the long-term effects of the drug on children are still unknown. Your doctor can help you identify if this drug might be advantageous for you or your child.
Evaluating stroke risk
Using an unique ultrasound machine (transcranial), medical professionals can find out which children have a greater risk of stroke. This test can be used on children as young as 2 years, and those who are discovered to have a high risk of stroke are then treated with regular blood transfusions.
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In a red blood cell transfusion, red blood cells are removed from a supply of contributed blood. These contributed cells are then provided intravenously to a person with sickle cell anemia.
Blood transfusions increase the number of normal red blood cells in circulation, helping to eliminate anemia. In children with sickle cell anemia at high risk of stroke, routine blood transfusions can reduce their risk of stroke.
Blood transfusions bring some risk. Blood includes iron. Routine blood transfusions cause an excess amount of iron to develop in your body. Since excess iron can damage your heart, liver and other organs, people who go through regular transfusions may need treatment to reduce iron levels. Deferasirox (Exjade) is an oral medication that can reduce excess iron levels.
Breathing extra oxygen through a breathing mask includes oxygen to your blood and helps you breathe much easier. It might be helpful if you have intense chest syndrome or a sickle cell crisis.
Stem cell transplant
A stem cell transplant, also called a bone marrow transplant, includes changing bone marrow affected by sickle cell anemia with healthy bone marrow from a donor. Since of the risks connected with a stem cell transplant, the procedure is suggested only for individuals who have considerable symptoms and problems from sickle cell anemia.
If a donor is found, the infected bone marrow in the individual with sickle cell anemia wases initially diminished with radiation or chemotherapy. Healthy stem cells from the donor are filtered from the blood.
The healthy stem cells are injected intravenously into the bloodstream of the person with sickle cell anemia, where they migrate to the bone marrow cavities and begin generating new members cells. The procedure needs a prolonged hospital stay. After the transplant, you’ll get drugs to assist avoid rejection of the contributed stem cells.
A stem cell transplant brings risks. There’s a possibility that your body may decline the transplant, resulting in life-threatening complications In addition, not everybody is a prospect for hair transplant or can discover an ideal donor.
Physicians treat most complications of sickle cell anemia as they take place. Treatment may include antibiotics, vitamins, blood transfusions, pain-relieving medicines, other medications and perhaps surgery, such as to fix vision problems or to get rid of a harmed spleen.
Scientists are studying new treatments for sickle cell anemia, consisting of:
- Gene therapy. Due to the fact that sickle cell anemia is caused by a faulty gene, scientists are checking out whether inserting a regular gene into the bone marrow of individuals with sickle cell anemia will lead to the production of regular hemoglobin. Scientists are likewise exploring the possibility of switching off the malfunctioning gene while reactivating another gene responsible for the production of fetal hemoglobin– a type of hemoglobin found in babies that avoids sickle cells from forming. Potential treatments using gene therapy are still a long way off, nevertheless. No human trials using genes specifically for sickle cell have yet been done.
- Nitric oxide. Individuals with sickle cell anemia have low levels of nitric oxide in their blood. Nitric oxide is a gas that helps keep capillary open and reduces the stickiness of red blood cells. Treatment with nitric oxide might avoid sickle cells from clumping together. Research studies on nitric oxide have had combined results up until now.
- Drugs to boost fetal hemoglobin production. Scientists are studying different drugs to develop a way to increase the production of fetal hemoglobin. This is a type of hemoglobin that stops sickle cells from forming.
- Statins. These medications, which are typically used to lower cholesterol, might also help reduce inflammation. In sickle cell anemia, statins might help blood flow much better through blood vessels.
Home Remedy for Sickle Cell Anemia
Taking actions to stay healthy may help you avoid complications of sickle cell anemia. If you or your child has sickle cell anemia, follow these recommendations to help you remain healthy:
- Take folic acid supplements daily, and choose a healthy diet. Bone marrow requires folic acid and other vitamins to make new red blood cells. Your doctor might suggest a folic acid supplement. You can increase the number of vitamins you eat every day by selecting a diet that focuses on a range of vibrant vegetables and fruits, as well as entire grains.
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can increase your risk of a sickle cell crisis. Drink water throughout your day, aiming for about eight glasses a day. Increase the amount of water you drink if you exercise or hang out in a hot, dry environment.
- Prevent temperature extremes. Direct exposure to severe heat or cold can increase your risk of a sickle cell crisis.
- Exercise routinely, however don’t overdo it. Talk with your doctor about how much workout is right for you.
- Use over the counter medications with caution. Some medications, such as the decongestant pseudoephedrine, can restrict your blood vessels and make it harder for the sickle cells to move through freely.
- Fly on aircrafts with pressurized cabins. Unpressurized aircraft cabins may not provide adequate oxygen. Low oxygen levels can activate a sickle crisis.
- Strategy ahead when taking a trip to high-altitude areas. There is less oxygen at higher elevations, so you might need supplemental oxygen to prevent triggering a sickle cell crisis. Meet your doctor prior to your journey to discuss the dangers of taking a trip to a high-altitude area.