According to Dr. John Kark of the Howard University School of Medicine's Center for Sickle Cell Disease, sickle cell trait usually results only in mild or uncommon complications, if any. The condition can, however, give rise to serious and potentially fatal complications.
Dr. Kark states that sickle cell trait is not commonly considered a disease, despite the malignant nature of some of its possible complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that most people with sickle cell trait do not have symptoms of sickle cell disease. Some people with sickle cell trait might experience complications associated with sickle cell disease, including pain crises. Increased atmospheric pressure, low oxygen levels associated with intensive exercise, dehydration and high altitudes are all circumstances that could pose a threat to some individuals with sickle cell trait.
According to the CDC, researchers do not fully understand why some people with sickle cell trait have complications and some do not. Intense athletic activity can pose a serious risk to people with sickle cell trait, but they can reduce their chances of becoming ill if they take care to keep their body temperatures at a lower level and avoid getting dehydrated. People with sickle cell trait who take part in such athletic activity should seek medical attention at the first signs of illness.