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Living with sickle cell disease (SCD)

AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana wants to help you avoid the emergency room and manage sickle cell disease (SCD) for yourself or a loved one.

SCD can cause severe pain. It can even be life-threatening. Learn about the triggers and how to treat the disease. You can live healthy with SCD and avoid hospital visits.

View our SCD pamphlet (PDF) to learn more about the disease. Print a copy to keep the information handy or to share with a friend.

What you need to know

What is sickle cell disease (SCD)?

People with SCD have red blood cells shaped like a "sickle" — or a curved moon. Sickle cells clump together and get stuck in blood vessels. This blocks blood flow and oxygen in the body and causes pain.

After many years of living with SCD, parts of the body can get damaged. This includes kidneys, lungs and small areas in the brain.

Living with SCD

Early SCD treatment helps stop serious illness. There is no cure for SCD. But, there are ways to help you take control of the disease to keep you out of the hospital.

Avoid these triggers to prevent a sickle cell crisis:

  • Cold temperatures 
  • Dehydration
  • Infections
  • Stress
  • High altitude
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Viral illness

These healthy habits can help you manage the disease:

  • Take folic acid (vitamin B). 
  • Children up to age 5 should take penicillin.
  • If your child has the disease, ask your doctor if hydroxyurea (hy-drok-see-your-ee-ah) is right for you or your child.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Get regular doctor checkups.

Treating a sickle cell crisis

Talk to your doctor about the symptoms of a sickle cell event before they happen. It’s important to have a plan if you need care right away.
Try these treatments at home to control SCD:

  • Take warm baths or showers. This helps the blood flow.
  • Put a heating pad where you have pain. Never use ice or cold packs. This could make pain worse.
  • Drink more liquids, such as water or juice. Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water every day.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything with caffeine. Caffeine limits blood flow in the body.
  • Massage. It may feel good to gently massage the area that hurts.

Signs of an SCD emergency

These symptoms always need immediate medical care:

  • A fever over 101°F
  • Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Severe pain, especially in hands, feet, chest and belly
  • Drooling, weakness, confusion, or sudden trouble with speaking or walking
  • A very long, unwanted and painful erection of the penis
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin, eyes and mouth

Want to learn more about SCD?

View our SCD pamphlet (PDF) to learn more about controlling your SCD. You can also call AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana Member Services with any questions at 1-888-756-0004.

 

Get a few quick tips to help keep your condition in check. Check out the Health Shelf in the member portal.