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How can I safely play sports if I have sickle cell trait (SCT)?

Some people with sickle cell trait (SCT) have been shown to be more likely than those without SCT to experience heat stroke and muscle breakdown when doing intense exercise, such as competitive sports or military training under unfavorable temperatures (very high or low) or conditions. Studies have shown that the chance of this problem can be reduced by avoiding dehydration and getting too hot during training.

People with SCT who participate in competitive or team sports (i.e., student athletes) should be careful when doing training or conditioning activities. To prevent illness it is important to:

  • Set your own pace and build your intensity slowly.
  • Rest often in between repetitive sets and drills.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after training and conditioning activities.
  • Keep the body temperature cool when exercising in hot and humid temperatures by misting the body with water or going to an air conditioned area during breaks or rest periods.
  • Immediately seek medical care when feeling ill.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.