Sickle cell Crisis: How to manage pain, Prevent Crisis!

A sickle cell crisis is those complications, mostly pain that comes with the sickle cell anaemia. The pain can start suddenly and last from hours to several days. The pain might be felt anywhere from the back, chest, knees, legs, arms or stomach.

Sickle cell disease or Sickle cell anaemia, is a common medical condition of the blood that arises as a result of a hereditary disorder, where by the red blood cells are destroyed whenever the body is subjected to stress or illness.

This condition are seen in those individuals who have a haemoglobin genotype of SS. These individuals inherit an S gene each from the mother and the father who me would be either AS or SS.

Sickle cell diseases comes with a lot of complications, known as Crisis. You can read more about sickle cell disease here.
Today, we would be talking about how to manage the complications that comes with sickle cell crisis.

Sickle Cell Crisis: Dealing With The Pain

  1. Always talk with your doctor.
  2. Be careful with over the counter pain relief drugs, if your doctor has not prescribed it. Please do not take it.
  3. Find out things that cause you pain and avoid them. We call them “Pain triggers”.
  4. Find what works for you and stick to it, different pain relief works differently for people, get yours and stick to it. Then try out things like warm bath, hang out with friends, relaxing with music etc

Sickle cell Crisis: Tips On How To Decrease Crisis

  1. Drink plenty fluid: Dehydration increases the risk of crisis. Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day and more if the weather is not or you’re exercising
  2. Sleep: you should spend a lot of time having quality sleep. Don’t do activities after dark.
  3. Eat Right: Have plenty of fruit and vegetables, grains and proteins.
  4. Exercise in moderation: Aim for about 2 hours moderate exercise weekly such as walking and biking. Do not overdo it please.
  5. Update your vaccines: Make sure you’re vaccinated and immunized fully. See vaccines you should take from child to adult here.

Sickle Cell Crisis: Things To Avoid

  1. Extreme Temperatures: Extreme cold or hot temperatures can trigger crisis. So avoid them, always cover up when cold and wear light clothing when hot.
  2. High Altitudes: Lack Of oxygen at high altitudes like mountain tops, air plane, etc can cause crisis.
  3. Alcohol: Alcohol can cause dehydration which can lead to crisis.
  4. Smoking: It causes a lung condition called “Acute Chest Syndrome”, this is where sickled cells stick together and block oxygen from getting into the lungs. No Smoking At All!
  5. Stress: Be it physical or emotional stress. It should be avoided at all times as they can trigger crisis. Always try to be calming down.
  6. Infections: They are deadly in sickle cell patients. Wash your hands before eating and after the restroom. Wash your foods and vegetables, avoid raw meat etc
Sickle cell crisis
Factors that can cause Sickle cell crisis. Image credits: Ask Haematologits

Symptoms of Sickle Cell Crisis: When To See A Doctor

You should see a doctor whenever you have any;

  1. Fever of more than 101F
  2. Severe chest pain
  3. Severe pain that you can’t relieve
  4. Severe headache, dizziness and stiff neck
  5. Seizure
  6. Swelling in your belly
  7. Erection that lasts more than 4hrs
  8. Problems breathing
  9. Loss of vision

In sickle cell, there is no “Cure” yet.
No your genotype before you commit!

No love is worth the pain these beautiful human beings go through. No love at all. Click here to read and see the kind of pain that these children can grow up with.

Feel free to ask questions below.


  • Dr. Echibuogu Nelson Tochukwu currently works as a medical officer at Prince Of Peace Specialist Hospital in Lagos. He holds an MBBS Degree from the Abia State University. He is a story teller, script writer and a lover of sport. You can follow him on twitter below.

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