As you all already know, I carry the sickle cell trait, which means I have inherited one gene for normal hemoglobin and one for the sickle hemoglobin. This is how I and others like me differ from those who have sickle cell disease. For most people, having SCT comes with no medical issues and has no symptoms; however in rare cases, some people can display symptoms like:
1. Pain/discomfort at high altitudes
2. Problems exercising in hot or humid weather
3. Blood in their urine
For me personally, I tend to be unable to exercise or even remain too long outside when the weather is hot. I start to feel really tired, dizzy, uncomfortable and in some cases even experience palpitations so this means that my only symptoms really are dehydration and problems in hot weather but otherwise I have been living a pretty normal life. I would only need to see a genetic counselor in the event that I want to start a family with a partner who may or may not also have the sickle cell trait. This is because even if my partner does not have the sickle hemoglobin, there is still a 50% chance that I could pass the trait on to my child who could also equally pass it on to their children.
It has been interesting to find out while researching that having the sickle cell trait can take "a deadly turn and even behave like sickle cell anemia". An article I read in American Nurse Today states that "people with sickle cell trait have both normal and abnormal RBCs, but usually both types are round...Unfortunately, when the abnormal RBCs are exposed to conditions that lead to hypoxia or dehydration, their shape changes from round to crescent or sickle-shaped". I was unaware that this could even happen where my red blood cells could change shape in extremely hot weather, causing hypoxia (deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues) that if unrelieved, could lead to cell death, sickle cell crisis, organ damage and ultimately death. You can read more on this here:
www.americannursetoday.com/sickle-cell-trait-can-take-a-sudden-deadly-turn/ Professional athletes and people who play sports that have SCT therefore need to be very cautious and careful as well as those in the military who need to take care during their extreme training. Even though SCT is not intended to kill, it has become the silent killer for many who have it that lead an extremely physically active lifestyle.
I was diagnosed with SCT at birth but adults can equally get tested by taking a blood sample from the end of the finger or vein in the arm. Because SCT typically has no symptoms, it requires no treatment and so if you are not in the military, a pro athlete or involved in any kind of competitive sport, then you can live a healthy, crisis-free life. For other regular folks like me, my advise is if you are undergoing any kind of weightloss exercise like I curently am, don't overdo it by exerting yourself with any outdoor workouts in the sun. Keep it in the gym or at home, go at a slow pace, always have drinking water nearby so you don't get dehydrated and always let your doctor know about any major lifestyle changes you are planning that could involve some level of physical activity to be sure you are not putting yourself and your health under any undue risks.
Life is never perfect and nobody has got it all. I thank God for the life He has blessed me with and I don't take a single day for granted, neither should you.