How to Diagnose and Treat Sickle Cell Anemia?

Sickle cell anemia can be diagnosed through a blood test. The blood test check for hemoglobin S – the defective form of hemoglobin make you get sickle cell anemia. Treatments of the disease include antibiotics, blood transfusion and bone marrow transplant, as well as other treatments for complications resulting from sickle cell anemia.

How is the disease diagnosed – blood test for hemoglobin S:

A blood test can check for hemoglobin S in the patient’s blood. In the United States, this blood test is part of routine newborn screening done at the hospital. But older children and adults can be tested, too. Then staff of the laboratory will screen the sample and look for hemoglobin S.

If the screening test is negative, there is no sickle cell gene present. If the screening test is positive, further tests will be done to determine whether one or two sickle cell genes are present.

Treatments: blood transfusion and bone marrow transplant

Bone marrow transplant, also known as stem cell transplant, offers the only potential cure for sickle cell anemia.This treatment is usually for people younger than age 16 because the risks increase for people older than 16. Finding a donor is difficult, and the procedure has serious risks associated with it, including death.

  • Antibiotics. Antibiotics help the patients to fight infections, now that their own immune system is no longer strong. Doing so helps prevent infections, such as pneumonia, which can be life-threatening to an infant or child with sickle cell anemia.
  • Blood transfusion. In a red blood cell transfusion, doctors first remove red blood cells from the donor’s blood. Then the doctors inject the normal cells into the patient’s blood vessels. This increases the number of normal red blood cells in circulation, helping to relieve anemia. However, blood transfusions carry some risk, including infection and excess iron buildup in your body.
  • Bone marrow transplant. A bone marrow transplant, also called a stem cell transplant, involves replacing bone marrow affected by sickle cell anemia with healthy bone marrow from a donor. The procedure usually uses a matched donor, such as a sibling, who doesn’t have sickle cell anemia. For many, stem cells from umbilical cord blood might be an option, as doners are usually not available. However, the procedure is only for people, usually children, who have significant symptoms and problems from sickle cell anemia.
* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.