The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Hemoglobinopathies: Hemoglobin S Disorders. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Preventive Treatment

Pain is the most common complication of SCD. These steps are recommended by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help prevent and reduce the number of pain crises:

  • Drink water.
  • Avoid exposure to excess heat or cold.
  • Avoid high altitudes (eg, flying, mountain climbing, or cities with a high altitude).
  • Avoid exposure to low oxygen levels (eg, mountain climbing or over-exertion).
  • Adults with severe SCD can take a medicine called hydroxyurea to help reduce the number of pain crises.
    • People taking hydroxyurea must be checked often by a doctor because the medicine can cause serious side effects, including an increased risk of dangerous infections.
  • New research has shown that babies and children with SCD also benefit from hydroxurea.


Reference: Complications and treatment. CDC website. Available at: Accessed February 17, 2017.