Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Sickle Cell Trait Overview

Another name for Sickle Cell Trait is Sickle Cell Anemia.

What is sickle cell anemia?
A person with sickle cell anemia has an inherited disease that results in the production of abnormal hemoglobin. The abnormal hemoglobin causes the red blood cells to have an abnormal shape. As a result, the red blood cells function poorly and form small clots in the bloodstream. When small clots form in the blood vessels, the person experiences severe pain, called a painful crisis. A person with sickle cell trait produces some abnormal hemoglobin, but does not have sickle cell anemia. About 1 out of 500 African-American babies born in the US has sickle cell anemia.

What are the symptoms of sickle cell anemia?
Symptoms of anemia in those with sickle cell anemia include fatigue, pale skin, headaches, faintness, fainting, and difficulty breathing with exertion. Severe symptoms include abdominal pain, chest pain, fever, joint pains, joint swelling, vomiting, and rapid pulse.

How does the doctor treat sickle cell anemia?
Treatment for sickle cell anemia may include plenty of oral fluids, vitamin supplements, pain medications, and hydroxyurea. Treatment for severe symptoms of sickle cell anemia requires intravenous fluids, narcotic pain medications, and antibiotics.

Continue to Sickle Cell Trait Incidence

Last Updated: Feb 11, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Sickle Cell Trait References
  1. Ander DS, Vallee PA. Diagnostic evaluation for infectious etiology of sickle cell pain crisis. Am J Emerg Med. 1997 May;15(3):290-2. [9148990]
  2. Fletcher C. Appraisal and coping with vaso-occlusive crisis in adolescents with sickle cell disease. Pediatr Nurs. 2000 May-Jun;26(3):319-24. [12026399]
  3. Johnson L. Managing acute and chronic pain in sickle cell disease. Nurs Times. 2005 Feb 22-28;101(8):40-3. [15754942]
  4. Miller JA, Hinrichs CR. Sickle cell crisis in the adult: chest radiographic findings and comparison with pediatric sickle cell disease. J Natl Med Assoc. 2001 Feb;93(2):58-63. [12653383]
  5. Silbergleit R, Jancis MO, McNamara RM. Management of sickle cell pain crisis in the emergency department at teaching hospitals. J Emerg Med. 1999 Jul-Aug;17(4):625-30. [10431951]
  6. Yale SH, Nagib N, Guthrie T. Approach to the vaso-occlusive crisis in adults with sickle cell disease. Am Fam Physician. 2000 Mar 1;61(5):1349-56, 1363-4. [10735342]
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