Drink up: Staying hydrated can prevent complications for sickle cell trait carriers

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alexi Myrick
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. –Hydration plays a very important role in Team McConnell’s everyday mission especially during these hot summer months. Staying hydrated will help the Airmen of McConnell execute their everyday duties and ensure their overall health.


Dehydration can be very harmful. These symptoms can include fatigue, extreme thirst, headache, confusion and dizziness, but there are also those who are more susceptible to dehydration. These individuals possess a trait called sickle cell.


Sickle cell trait is genetically passed on, meaning it was either inherited from the mother or father. It is possible for the trait to cause complications. Especially in situations when low oxygen levels, increased atmospheric pressure and dehydration are involved.


Sickle cell disease differentiates from the trait because the disease must be passed from both parents. The disease can also cause much more serious effects such as swelling or inflammation of the hands or feet, bacterial infections and liver congestion.


Those at risk for sickle cell commonly have ancestors from countries in Africa, the Middle East, India, South America, or the Mediterranean.


Abnormally shaped red blood cells cause a lack of oxygen from being transported throughout the body, which could cause fatigue. Hydration is very important for those with the trait to ensure that the decrease in oxygen is replenished to help maintain a healthy balance.


“Approximately 70% of our bodies are made of water and we need hydration to keep up our energy levels, help with digestion, tolerance of temperature changes and to make sure our liver and kidneys are functioning properly,” said Maribeth Havran, 22nd Medical Group health promotion dietitian.


Another consideration for hydration is supplements. Supplements can cause dehydration if they are causing more urine output than the amount of water intake a person is consuming.


Havran explained that the best way to keep hydrated throughout the day for those with and without the sickle cell trait is to create a hydration plan. This plan should account for their work environment, the temperature and water intake.


To ensure supplements are safe and to help you make an informed decision when choosing supplements please visit the Operation Supplement Safety website at OPSS.org.


If you have any questions or would like more information on the sickle trait, you can contact the 22nd MDG at 759-6300.