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You have a unique medical history. It is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with sickle cell disease. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
  • Am I a carrier for sickle cell disease?
  • Do I have sickle cell disease?
  • What are the chances that my children will have sickle cell disease?
  • What is the usual progression of the disease?
  • What should I do to avoid infections?
  • How will I know if I’ve developed an infection?
  • What symptoms should alert me to see my doctor?
  • What should I do if I have to travel by plane?
  • What treatments will help me avoid sickle cell crises?
  • What treatments will help me avoid other complications from sickle cell disease?
  • Should I be getting periodic doppler ultrasound screening to prevent stroke?
  • Will I need blood transfusions?
  • Am I a candidate for a bone marrow transplant?
  • Do you recommend a bone marrow transplant?
  • What can I do to reduce the chances of complications from sickle cell disease?
  • What can I do to avoid sickle cell crises?
  • What exercise can I do that won’t put me at greater risk for sickle cell crises?
  • Can you refer me to a dietitian so I can learn how to eat nutritiously?
  • How much sleep should I get each night?
  • Are there any clinical trials that I could participate in? Do you recommend any?
  • Might I be a candidate for a bone marrow transplant in the future?

Owusu-Ofori S, Riddington C. Splenectomy versus conservative management for acute sequestration crises in people with sickle cell disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(4):CD003425.

Sickle cell disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 6, 2013. Accessed July 1, 2013.

Sickle cell disease. Nemours' KidsHealth.org website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/heart/sickle_cell_anemia.html. Updated September 2012. Accessed July 1, 2013.

Sickle cell disease (SCD). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/index.html. Updated September 27, 2012. Accessed July 1, 2013.

What is sickle cell anemia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sca/. Updated September 28, 2012. Accessed July 1, 2013.

Last reviewed July 2013 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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