Which factors can precipitate the sickling process that prompts a crisis in sickle cell disease (SCD)?

Updated: May 12, 2021
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

The sickling process that prompts a crisis may be precipitated by multiple factors. Local tissue hypoxia, dehydration secondary to a viral illness, or nausea and vomiting, all of which lead to hypertonicity of the plasma, may induce sickling. Any event that can lead to acidosis, such as infection or extreme dehydration, can cause sickling. More benign factors and environmental changes, such as fatigue, exposure to cold, and psychosocial stress, can elicit the sickling process. A specific cause is often not identified.


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