Sickle Cell Anaemia in Children: Diagnosis, Treatment and Management.

After your child being diagnosed with sickle-cell anaemia, there are several guidelines that your physician does prescribe. Some of those guidelines are aimed at dealing with the characteristics of sickle-cell anaemia.

Diagnosis, treatment and management of sickle cell anaemia symptoms and effects in children.Both in children and in adults, the principles in management of sickle-cell anaemia effects are about the same.

If your child has been or has not yet been diagnosed,

You need to know the following:

  • Fever. This is a common characteristic of the illness in both children and adults. To effectively prevent and manage Sickle cell anaemia,  vaccination is done to avoid development of sickle-cell disease. If your child has a history of fever, you should take that history seriously and test whether fever or other signs of infection are developing. Children with sickle-cell anaemia have fever (>38.5 c or 101 f). The other signs and symptoms of this disease are infections, chills, lethargy, irritability, poor feeding and vomiting. The younger the child, the more you should always take these characteristics more seriously. You should regularly visit a physician for medical check-up even if the child does not have visible signs of infection. Blood count, reticulocyte count and chest x-rays should help test the health of your child.
  • Pain episodes. This is also a common characteristic in children with sickle-cell anaemia.  The earliest manifestation is Dactylitis also called hand foot syndrome. This syndrome starts at less than 1 year of age. It causes pain that is experienced in the limbs, ribs, skull bones, abdominal viscera and vertebrae.  The pain episodes may start suddenly or after an illness. These episodes can be accompanied by lack of appetite, a decrease in physical activity and heightened jaundice.  It is recommended to carefully identify the exact site of the pain. You should identify the site, whether it is pain or weakness of the surrounding tissues. Having the right mix of medication and the knowledge to use and of their side effects is critical in management of sickle-cell anaemia episodes. You should schedule visits to a health care facility 2 to 3 months in the first 2 years of your child’s life. This should be coinciding with the immunization schedule. After the two years, visits should still be at least every 6 months. You can use oral analgesics and non medical therapies to manage most pain episodes. These should be in accord with your physician’s guideline though.  Having hot baths and showers, massage, relaxing and distractions from the pain will help you or your child effectively manage the episodic painful moments. There are several types of pains associated with sickle-cell disease.
  1. There is acute pain, the most common which is characterized by an unpredictable onset of pain. Acute pain can last for hours to a few days and it can migrate from one site to another.
  2. There is chronic pain which can last for about 3 to 6 months. This pain is both physical and psychological and it involves sensation, emotion and cognition problems.
  3. The other type is mixed pain. Also known as neuropathic pain, it can result from infarction, compression from bony structures and iron overload or use of nocieptive substances.

Always consult a doctor when your child vomits, experiences respiratory and abdominal complications or has swellings and signs of paralysis.

  • Nutrition. A child diagnosed with sickle-cell anaemia should be breastfeed by the mother. In case this is not possible, you could use an alternative; iron-fortified formulas, as diet. Nutrition for a child with sickle-cell anaemia should be done properly to avoid iron over load. Unless the child has been proven to be iron deficient, you should monitor iron intake. This is because iron is accumulated faster than normal in sickle-cell anaemia patients.
  • Parent child relation.  As a parent to a sickle-cell anaemia child patient, you should treat the child as normal as possible. This helps encourage self-esteem and reliance of the child in living and managing his/her condition. This kind of positive motivation helps the child identify with their condition and acquire knowledge on how to manage the disease. In every aspect of life, the child is usually normal. Fostering a relationship through acts such as exercising ensures better management of the disease. Physical exercise should be encouraged with breaks in between to allow the child to rest and to drink fluids. While exercising, monitor and identify fatigue and signs of an episodic moment to avoid fatalities.
  • Adolescent SCD patients. If your child is a teenager, here are several tips for you too. For girls, full knowledge of the effects of pregnancy should be provided. They should understand the effects of contraceptives and their reproductive system. Their gestation period should be monitored to effectively manage any characteristic of sickle-cell anaemia. Both for boys and girls, it is advised to abstain or practice safe sex. This helps avoid any infections that will jeopardize the health of the adolescent. It is also recommended to avoid drugs and substance abuse.
  • This disease necessitates you regularly consult with your doctor.
  • Have regular medical check-ups and follow your physician guidelines.

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