When You Should Seek Emergency Care

The NIH practice guidelines for management and therapy of sickle cell disease recommend immediate medical evaluation for complaints of pain associated with any of the following:

  • fever greater than 101°F, lethargy, pallor, recurrent vomiting, and dehydration [link to Infection and Fever page]
  • new onset pulmonary (lung) symptoms
  • new onset neurologic (head) symptoms
  • pain associated with limb weakness or loss of function
  • new onset of joint swelling
  • stomach pain from an enlarged spleen
  • pain which is unrelieved with oral medications and supportive measures (heat, rest, etc.)
  • priapism (prolonged penis erection) lasting more than two hours
  • new onset flank (over the kidney area) or back pain