SCD is a life-long condition that needs to be managed and treated throughout your life, beginning at the onset of symptoms. Thanks to advanced treatment options, many people with SCD are living well into adulthood.

Currently the only cure for SCD is a bone marrow transplant, Bone marrow transplants are most successful when the donor is a genetic match, usually a sibling. Fewer than 20% of SCD patients have a compatible donor.

Consequently, most SCD patients need to manage their condition as well as possible and reach out to their healthcare provider to treat the symptoms and acute crises. 

For most people treating the symptoms of SCD is their only choice. Most treatment starts with newborns who are given antibiotics daily until the age of 5 to prevent infection. As SCD patients move into adulthood, treatment often advances to include pain medication, transfusions and lifestyle modifications to manage symptoms. 


A healthy lifestyle is important for individuals with SCD. Some easy ways to lead a healthier life include:

  • Stay hydrated: adequate water intake helps keep blood flowing more freely
  • Get vaccinated: regular vaccinations for the flu, covid and pneumonia help to minimize the risk of contracting a bacterial infection.
  • Exercise: regular exercise helps keep the joints limber and helps to maintain lung and cardiovascular health.
  • Healthy diet: eating a well-balanced diet with lots of veggies, fruits and lean proteins helps the immune system and gives your body the fuel it needs to manage pain crises.


Most SCD patients follow a proactive medication regimen to minimize the number and severity of pain crises. In addition to over-the-counter pain relievers, your healthcare provider may prescribe: 

  • Voxelotor to prevent the sickled cells from sticking together and increase how long cells ‘live’. This improves blood flow which will improve inflammation and reduce pain crises.
  • Crizanlizumub which helps prevent sickled cells from sticking to the walls of the blood vessels and can reduce the frequency and severity of pain crises. 
  • Hydroxyurea can reduce the number and severity of pain crises, acute chest syndrome and anemia.
  • L-glutamine is a pain reliever that can limit the number of pain crises you experience. 


Blood transfusions are key to managing severe anemia and can help to replace sickled cells with round cells, providing some relief until the body’s blood production process kicks in again. A simple transfusion adds blood to your system, while a more aggressive transfusion, called apheresis, essentially replaces all the blood in your system.

Many people living with SCD find that regular blood transfusions help to reduce the frequency and severity of pain crises.