There is NO cure for sickle cell disease, although new stem cell research is promising. Bone marrow transplant is a potential cure, however finding a matched sibling donor is difficult. Therefore treatment is primarily focused on management of symptoms and prevention of pain episodes.
Hydroxyurea (a chemotherapeutic medication) is the only recognized treatment option for the prevention of vaso-occlusive crisis in SCD. It is a prescribed drug for adult patients who experience more than three pain episodes causing hospitalization, as well as two or more life threatening complications. The drug reduces the frequency of pain crisis and potential complications related to SCD.
Alternatively, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a psychological intervention that assists patients in developing coping strategies for pain symptoms. Some coping mechanisms include thought monitoring, distraction, relaxation and activity rescheduling.
In a study done by Cummins & Anie (2003) it was shown that patients treated only using CBT experienced more pain crises but fewer hospitalizations than patients taking hydroxyurea therapy. However, they expressed a more positive overall health outlook.
Blood transfusions are sometimes administered to patients in specific circumstances such as cerebrovascular accident (stroke), acute chest syndrome, or when sickle cell crisis are so recurrent that damage to the organs occur (Brown, 2012). Managing the social effects of the disease should comprise of a solid social support group where patients, families and healthcare professionals can benefit from an open forum of communication, fostering education about the illness for all contributing members (Jisieike, 2007). ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
For more information about sickle cell disease or to provide your support to the SCD community, please contact: The Canadian Sickle Cell Society...
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