Learning About Gene Status.....

Sickle Cell Trait

Sickle cell trait is not the same as sickle cell anemia/disease. Having a diagnosis of Sickle Cell Trait means that a person has inherited one sickle cell gene from a parent and one normal gene from the other parent. People with Sickle Cell Trait rarely have any symptoms such as Sickle Cell Disease, but it is imperative to be aware of & educated about the sickle cell status.

Why is It is important to be aware of your sickle cell trait status?
It is important to be aware of your sickle cell trait status because your sickle cell gene can be passed to your child. A combination of a mother & father having the Sickle gene has a possibility of having a child born with sickle cell disease. You must also be aware that athletes with the sickle cell trait are at risk of having a possible symptoms of a sickling event when exercising under extreme conditions of physical exertion and/or low oxygen levels. During a sickling event some of the round red blood cells change to dangerous sickle-shaped cells that can block blood vessels. The blocking of vessels deprive red blood cells from carrying need oxygen from blood to the muscles, kidneys, and other organs. This can lead to tissue death, organ failure, and rhabdomyolysis, the rapid breakdown of muscle cells that causes the release myoglobin and other cellular enzymes into the bloodstream.

If my child has the sickle cell trait, should I tell him or her?
Yes. It is important for your child to be informed and educated about their sickle cell status. Many individuals are tested at birth, but they are not educated about their sickle cell trait status. There are genetic counselors available to further explain the sickle trait to your child. You can ask your child’s doctor to refer you or contact a local sickle cell foundation for more information.

The following precautions can be used to avoid a sickling event:

• Educate athletes with the sickle cell trait to report any symptoms immediately such as fatigue, difficulty breathing, leg or low back pain, or back cramping.
• Allow frequent water breaks for hydration
• Allow longer periods of rest and recovery during training.
• Build up training slowly with paced progressions.
• Athletes should participate in preseason strength and conditioning programs that enhance their abilities.
• If symptoms such as pain, swelling, weakness, tenderness, muscle cramping and shortness of breath occurs, discontinue the
athletes activity for the day for precaution.
• If training or a game occurs in extreme heat, adjust rest and hydration intervals.
• Be observant and cautious that athletes who are susceptible to environmental heat stress, dehydration, asthma, any illness,
and altitude predisposition can exacerbate the onset of sickling with intense physical exertion.
• If asthmatic, use an inhaler.
• Sickle-trait athletes who can set their own pace and are aware of symptoms can have successful training and compete
without issue.

In the event of a sickling event, treat it as a medical emergency by doing the following:

• Call 911 and describe the athletes symptoms
• Keep the athlete as cool as possible
• Check vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure).
• Administer high-flow oxygen (if available)
• If the athlete’s vital signs regress use an AED if available continue to try to cool the athlete
• Inform physicians and the attending Emergency responders of the athlete’s condition.

By using proper screening, taking the required precautions, and using sensible training plans, it will allow those with the sickle cell trait to train and compete without issue. Athletes diagnosed with the sickle trait should keep up with annual doctor visits and discuss info about sickle trait and athletics to stay educated on their health.

Sickle Cell Trait Precautions

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