Sickle Cell Disease in Children Q & A
Does your child have sickle cell disease or do you suspect it in your child? We can help here at Night Lite Pediatrics. There’s a lot we can do for your child, including providing ongoing care as well as urgent care services when necessary. Call us now. We serve patients from Greater Orlando, Jacksonville, Melbourne and Port St Lucie.
What is sickle cell disease in children?
The disease is a blood disorder a child is born with. It’s passed down through a parent’s genes. A child with the condition produces an abnormal type of hemoglobin (the protein in red blood cells that delivers oxygen throughout the body), and the child’s body organs and tissues won’t get enough oxygen. Anemia is an effect of sickle cell disease, or possibly even damage to major organs.
Some cases of the disease have serious symptoms and problems, while other cases don’t and may not have many symptoms at all. Generally, if a child has sickle cell disease, the child will start showing symptoms in the first year, at around 5 months.
When should I go see a doctor about sickle cell disease?
You should take your child to see a doctor if your child has symptoms or if you suspect your child has the disease. You might suspect this if your child is at risk of the disease or has the symptoms of the disease.
A child might be at risk if there’s a family history of sickle cell disease. Also, the disease commonly affects children whose families came from Africa, as well as Hispanics whose families come from the Caribbean, but the gene and the disease can also be found in children whose families come from the Middle East, Latin America, India, and Mediterranean countries.
The symptoms of sickle cell disease vary (they also vary in severity) and can be:
- Acute chest syndrome – Signs of this are fever, pain, and a violent cough. This syndrome can occur suddenly if the body is under stress from infection, fever, or dehydration, and it can also be deadly, so it requires emergency care at the ER (emergency room).
- Splenic sequestration (pooling) – When the spleen becomes enlarged and painful. This can be deadly too and also requires care at the ER.
- Pain crisis – This causes sudden and possibly even severe pain in areas like the chest, arms, belly, or legs. Emergency care at the ER may be necessary. Painful finger or toe swelling may happen in babies and younger children.
- Anemia – The most common symptom; with anemia, a child may be pale and tired.
- Yellowing of the skin, mouth, and eyes – This is jaundice, another common symptom.
- Fever, trouble breathing, or sudden vision loss are other possible signs and symptoms.
Because it’s easy to confuse the symptoms of sickle cell disease with those of another condition, it’s important to get professional diagnosis. Early diagnosis is important too. Minor (non-life-threatening) symptoms can be treated at an urgent care clinic like ours, and we can also provide long-term care for a child who needs it.
How is sickle cell disease treated in a child?
Treatment depends on a patient’s symptoms, the severity of the symptoms, and the patient’s age. Your child may need the services of a hematologist, an expert of blood disorders like sickle cell disease.
Treatment may include pain medicine, drinking a lot of water, blood transfusions, vaccinations and antibiotics (to prevent infections), folic acid, and/or hydroxyurea which is a medicine that can reduce the number of sickle cells in the patient’s blood, as well as reduce complications and crises. There may be other treatments available too, and you can be sure we’ll help you learn how to help your child cope with the condition.
Where can I find a doctor of sickle cell disease in children?
You can find one here at Night Lite Pediatrics. We have multiple locations in Greater Orlando and beyond, so please see our Locations page for the one nearest you. From that page, you’ll be able to contact the location near you or book an appointment or consultation for your child. Don’t hesitate to reach out and connect with us if your child has sickle cell disease or you suspect it. We can provide urgent care, ongoing care, and the professional support of a pediatrician.
We hope to hear from you soon!