• Exertional Sickling occurs in athletes carrying the sickle cell trait. When the red blood cells change shape or “sickle” it causes a buildup of red blood cells in small blood vessels leading to decreased blood flow. This drop in blood flow leads to a breakdown of muscle tissue and cell death known as fulminant rhabdomyolysis.

Red Blood Cells
  • Signs and Symptoms of Exertional Sickling:

    • Cramping Muscle Weakness > Muscle Pain
    • Fatigue
    • Slumps to Ground
    • Muscles Look and Feel Normal
    • Rapid Breathing
    • Core (Rectal) Temperature <102oF

    What to do in the event of this emergency?

    • Check and monitor vitals.
    • Monitor for shock, responsiveness, tachycardia (fast heart rate) that begins to evolve into bradycardia (slow heart rate).
    • If available, give supplemental oxygen at 15 L/min by non-breather mask.
    • Cool athlete, if necessary.
    • Failing immediate improvement, call 911 and attach an AED. Be ready to start CPR, if needed.
    • Transport athlete.