Sickle Cell Disease: Acute Chest Syndrome
Acute chest syndrome is a lung-related complication of Reference sickle cell disease Opens New Window that can lower the levels of oxygen in the blood and can be life-threatening. Repeat occurrences of acute chest syndrome can cause lung damage. This condition develops more often in young children but is usually more severe in adults.
Symptoms of acute chest syndrome can include:
- Chest pain.
- Shortness of breath.
Symptoms require emergency evaluation and treatment. Because a person with acute chest syndrome can deteriorate rapidly, a hospital stay is usually needed. Some cases are mild and will need little more than careful observation. More severe cases may need treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU) of the hospital.
Although its cause is not fully understood, acute chest syndrome is more likely to develop after:
- An infection.
- A Reference sickle cell crisis (particularly one in the chest area that causes shallow breathing).
- Use of general anesthesia for surgery.
- A reduction of normal blood flow to part of the lungs (caused by a blood clot).
- Pain treatment with heavy doses of Reference opiate Opens New Window medicine.
Treatment of acute chest syndrome includes:
- Encouraging deep breathing. This is especially important when a person has chest pain or drowsiness and shallow breathing from opiate medicine.
- Receiving Reference antibiotic Opens New Window therapy, Reference oxygen Opens New Window, pain medicines, and Reference blood transfusions Opens New Window.
- Monitoring the amount of fluids being consumed, because fluids may build up in the lungs (Reference pulmonary edema Opens New Window) during acute chest syndrome.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 1, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Martin Steinberg, MD - Hematology