Discussions By Condition: Cardiovascular disease

Is this anemia?....for an athlete

Posted In: Cardiovascular disease 6 Replies
  • Posted By: noonej
  • April 9, 2008
  • 05:49 AM

Hello,
I'm a 25 y.o. male and am wondering what your interpretation of these WBC and RBC counts is.

WBC 4.1 K/uL (normal range: 3.8-11.1)
RBC 4.64L M/uL (normal range: 4.7-6.1)

I realize that these are near the low end of normal and wouldn't normally be alarming, so please let me explain why I'm posting this thread.

1. I'm a hard-core endurance athlete (I run for my college's cross country team) and, because of that, I wonder how much this one-size-fits-all normal range applies to my body. Maybe it still does, but it would seem to me that athletes would need a higher RBC count than non-athletes. Am I wrong?
2. I've been seriously ill with a difficult to diagnose malabsorption problem for around 4 years now. Many things ARE out of whack in my body and (so far) the best luck I've had has been with symptom treating. I'm not disillusioned about my root problem being anemia, but if these numbers DO seem low for a serious athlete, then maybe it would provide a little bit of relief to my body if I tried treating it. These are actually the highest WBC and RBC counts I've had since becoming sick. My old WBC counts were always at 3.6 and my RBC counts were at 4.45 and 4.39.

Please fire away if you have questions. Thanks to everyone for reading this.

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6 Replies:

  • Hello,I'm a 25 y.o. male and am wondering what your interpretation of these WBC and RBC counts is. WBC 4.1 K/uL (normal range: 3.8-11.1)RBC 4.64L M/uL (normal range: 4.7-6.1)I realize that these are near the low end of normal and wouldn't normally be alarming, so please let me explain why I'm posting this thread.1. I'm a hard-core endurance athlete (I run for my college's cross country team) and, because of that, I wonder how much this one-size-fits-all normal range applies to my body. Maybe it still does, but it would seem to me that athletes would need a higher RBC count than non-athletes. Am I wrong?2. I've been seriously ill with a difficult to diagnose malabsorption problem for around 4 years now. Many things ARE out of whack in my body and (so far) the best luck I've had has been with symptom treating. I'm not disillusioned about my root problem being anemia, but if these numbers DO seem low for a serious athlete, then maybe it would provide a little bit of relief to my body if I tried treating it. These are actually the highest WBC and RBC counts I've had since becoming sick. My old WBC counts were always at 3.6 and my RBC counts were at 4.45 and 4.39.Please fire away if you have questions. Thanks to everyone for reading this.Any number of things could be the cause for your illness. For me my anemia (don't know actual number that you are going through as they only tell me my Hemoglobin and hemocrit numbers on the lab work papers) is caused by kidney disease, so completely different than what you are going through. But if you are really worried I would suggest a full work up by the docs to test all blood levels and other things like protein and glucose and whatever .. I am not the best for advice but since no one else answered you yet ..Also what is your pulse rate? Have you had an EKG or whatever done? I am asking because I figure maybe there is more to your story that I am not seeing since this is in the heart area. Or else I would have thought you would have posted here for just your RBC numbers.
    angieskidney 9 Replies Flag this Response
  • WBC doesn't indicate anemia.WBC's can indicate neutropenia, which can lead to increased illness because your immune system is down.You should have your hematocrit, hemoglobin, RBC, serum iron, TIBC, transferrin saturation and ferritin levels checked for anemia (CBC + Serum iron, TIBC, transferrin saturation and ferritin).
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hello,I'm a 25 y.o. male and am wondering what your interpretation of these WBC and RBC counts is. WBC 4.1 K/uL (normal range: 3.8-11.1)RBC 4.64L M/uL (normal range: 4.7-6.1)I realize that these are near the low end of normal and wouldn't normally be alarming, so please let me explain why I'm posting this thread.1. I'm a hard-core endurance athlete (I run for my college's cross country team) and, because of that, I wonder how much this one-size-fits-all normal range applies to my body. Maybe it still does, but it would seem to me that athletes would need a higher RBC count than non-athletes. Am I wrong?2. I've been seriously ill with a difficult to diagnose malabsorption problem for around 4 years now. Many things ARE out of whack in my body and (so far) the best luck I've had has been with symptom treating. I'm not disillusioned about my root problem being anemia, but if these numbers DO seem low for a serious athlete, then maybe it would provide a little bit of relief to my body if I tried treating it. These are actually the highest WBC and RBC counts I've had since becoming sick. My old WBC counts were always at 3.6 and my RBC counts were at 4.45 and 4.39.Please fire away if you have questions. Thanks to everyone for reading this.The only sure fire way to determine anemia is through three tests. There are three types of anemia: iron deficiency, pernicious anemia (B12), and folate deficiency. You need a Ferritin level, folate level, and a Vit B12 level. You could have any of these or all of them especially if you have a malabsorption problem.You can find out more about lab test and what they determine at the following website:http://www.labtestonline.org/Here's an example of the information they offer:http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/wbc/test.htmlA decreased WBC count is called leukopenia. It can result from many different situations, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or diseases of the immune system.http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/rbc/test.htmlA decreased number of RBCs results from either acute or chronic blood loss. Acute blood loss is a rapid depletion of blood volume. Chronic blood loss stems from various conditions that often results in some form of an anemia. Chronic anemias are due to loss of small amounts of blood over a long period of time (bleeding), mechanical destruction of the RBCs, or some physiologic problem such as decreased RBC production.Decreased RBCTraumaBurnsPregnancyHemolytic anemiaHemorrhagic infectionsGastrointestinal (GI) or other vascular bleedIron deficiency anemiaVitamin B12 or folate deficiencybone marrow damageMetabolic disordersChronic inflammationAnd if you need to get tested for the specific tests and your doctor refuses to do them try this site:http://www.healthcheckusa.com/Good luck.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Thanks for the replies, guys. Sorry if I was sparse with the test results. I've actually had a ton of blood work done. Nothing was notable about my iron results. I don't have a current B12 test, but I'll say that I used to be on a very, very strong multi-vitamin (which I've since stopped) and my B12 levels were slightly high even though both my WBC and RBC which were both drawn the same day as the B12 came up below the normal range. Here's the rest of my current tests (I italicized results that were at the low or high end of the range):Hemoglobin 14.5 (nor. 14-18)Hematocrit 42 (nor. 42-52)MCV 91 (nor. 80-99)MCHC 35 (nor. 32-36)RDW 13.2 (nor. 11.5-14.5)Platelet Count 168 (nor. 150-440)Neutrophils 59 (nor. 42-77)Lymphocytes 26 (nor. 21-45)Monocytes 9 (nor. 2-9)Eosinophils 6H (nor. 0-5)Basophils 0 (nor. 0-5)Again, I can see that the results by themselves don't show me as having anemia. Given how much I exercise and how in shape I am, though, it would seem to me that my RBC would need to be higher than a normal person's and the fact that I'm below the normal range might indicate that if I weren't exercising so much I'd be clearly anemic. Does this make sense? What I'm trying to suggest is that my good lifestyle choices might be boosting my RBC count and masquing anemia and am wondering if this sounds like a realistic possibility to people. Thanks again.John
    noonej 11 Replies Flag this Response
  • I was wrong about not having any recent Vitamin B12 tests. I do. My recent Vtiamin B12 results were 996H (nor. 239-931 pg/mL) which was drawn at the same time as my RBC count of 4.64L (nor. 4.7-6.1). A previous test from several years ago showed my Vitamin B12 levels at >1000H (nor. 239-931 pg/mL). At the same draw, my RBC count was 4.45L (nor. 4.7-6.1).One slight possibility is that I am Vitamin B12 deficient, but it's masqued by my high folic acid intake which is somewhere around 5 or 6 mg./day (the RDI is 1 mg./day). Folic acid can correct the anemia associated with Vitamin B12 deficiency but fails to correct the damage to the nervous system.
    noonej 11 Replies Flag this Response
  • I was wrong about not having any recent Vitamin B12 tests. I do. My recent Vtiamin B12 results were 996H (nor. 239-931 pg/mL) which was drawn at the same time as my RBC count of 4.64L (nor. 4.7-6.1). A previous test from several years ago showed my Vitamin B12 levels at >1000H (nor. 239-931 pg/mL). At the same draw, my RBC count was 4.45L (nor. 4.7-6.1).One slight possibility is that I am Vitamin B12 deficient, but it's masqued by my high folic acid intake which is somewhere around 5 or 6 mg./day (the RDI is 1 mg./day). Folic acid can correct the anemia associated with Vitamin B12 deficiency but fails to correct the damage to the nervous system.Apparently, there is a condition known as "sports anemia." Indeed, decreases in RBC count, hematocrit, etc. are correlated with one's duration of training (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1763253/pdf/v034p00200.pdf). I'm going to try to find out more about this, as I seem to be on the low end of these measures too (I am a 48-y.o. triathlete, highly trained for at least 15 years). My B12 and folate levels are fine. Looks like yours are too (a B12 reading of 996 is probably not statistically different from 1000; indeed, both of your B12 readings appear to be above the top of the normal range). This effect seems counter-intuitive; I always assumed that placing greater oxygen demands on your body would make it respond by increasing hematocrit, Hb, etc. But maybe there are increases in myoglobin (which stores oxygen in the muscles), cardiac output, and other parameters that allow RBCs to drop. Intriguing. Makes it quite obvious why EPO and blood doping are such successful methods of cheating.
    Shinbarker 1 Replies Flag this Response
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