Together is a new resource for anyone affected by pediatric cancer - patients and their parents, family members, and friends.Learn More
Children and teens with sickle cell disease have an increased risk of developing infections including:
The spleen is an organ on the left side of the body under the ribcage. It is about the size of a fist. The spleen helps the body fight infection.
The spleen does not work correctly in people who have sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell disease affects the red blood cells causing them to sickle or become banana shaped. Sickled red blood cells stick together and clog the blood vessels in the spleen. This leads to damage and poor protection against infection.
If your child has sickle cell disease, it is important for you to know the signs and symptoms of an infection. They include:
In people with sickle cell disease, a fever of 100.4°F (oral or rectal) or higher is a medical emergency. Call your child’s care team immediately if your child begins running a fever like this.
Do not give fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen for a fever of 100.4°F or higher. These medicines can lower the body’s temperature. But they also can hide infection symptoms.
Instead, take your child to a clinic or local emergency room for a blood test. Your child’s care team can use the test to find the cause of the infection.
Your child’s care team will likely prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Be sure your child takes them exactly as prescribed.
You can take steps at home to help your child stay healthy. One of the best ways to prevent infection is keeping your hands clean.
Vaccines can prevent many serious infections. Ensure your child gets all their vaccines on time.
It is not always possible to prevent infections. Sometimes sickle cell patients can follow all these guidelines and still get an infection.
Reach out to your child’s care team if you have questions about infections. They are available to help you.
Reviewed: September 2022