The purpose of treatment is to manage and control symptoms and to try to limit the frequency of crises. Supplementation with folic acid, an essential element in producing cells, is required because of the rapid red blood cell turnover.
- Health maintenance for patients with sickle cell disease starts with early diagnosis, preferably in the newborn period and includes penicillin prophylaxis, vaccination against pneumococcus bacteria and folic acid supplementation.
- Treatment of complications often includes antibiotics, pain management, intravenous fluids, blood transfusion and surgery all backed by psychosocial support.
- Blood transfusions help benefit sickle cell disease patients by reducing recurrent pain crises, risk of stroke and other complications.
- Because red blood cells contain iron, and there is no natural way for the body to eliminate it, patients who receive repeated blood transfusions can accumulate iron in the body until it reaches toxic levels. It is important to remove excess iron from the body, because it can gather in the heart, liver, and other organs and may lead to organ damage.