Sickle Cell Anemia - Frequently Asked Questions
Family physicians very often initiate treatment. Specialists involved are internal medicine specialists and hematologists.
2. What is the prognosis of sickle cell anemia?
Sickle cell anemia is not curable and the life expectancy of the sufferers is usually reduced. The life expectancy depends on the genetic trait one inherits and the type of sickle cell disease that one has. In some cases, the symptoms are so severe that the patients do not survive childhood while in others, childhood is symptom free. However, with modern medicine it has become possible for people with sickle cell anemia to live longer and lead productive lives than they ever did in the past. Growth is retarded in some children with sickle cell anemia and it is common for them to experience severe pain throughout their life. They also often endure severe emotional trauma due to the physical ill-being and uncertainty regarding their future. Death occurs due to bacterial infection, stroke, hemorrhage or organ failure.
3. Can people with SCA live productive lives?
Yes, people with SCA can live productive lives, since there are good treatments that have proven to be very effective. The best one is a bone marrow transplant. Sometimes, hydroxyurea treatment and other effective medications are also given. With additional management and support, the patients can lead productive lives.
4. Is pregnancy complicated for SCA patients?
Yes, pregnancy can be complicated for sickle cell anemia patients. It can be risky for the mother and the child. The frequency of pain episodes increase and the disease can become more complicated during pregnancy. A woman with SCA can deliver the baby pre-term or may give birth to a low-weight baby.
5. What are the simple steps to manage sickle cell anemia?
• Adopt a healthy lifestyle
• Avoid dehydration and other pain triggers
• Maintain good hygiene to avoid infections
• Learn pain-coping mechanisms
• Get vaccinated as per requirement to avoid infection
• Get regular health check-ups
• Family members and care takers should understand the disease and keep interacting with health care providers.