I'm not a doctor but…
Cycling injury, recovery and health issues.
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13 posts • Page 1 of 1
After not having to see the GP for a looong time, and planning to up the mileage & training next year in an effort to get somewhere with my cycling results, I got a full blood work-up from the doc and went & saw hime today to discuss.
Good news is I am a very healthy dude, with excellent blood pressure (112/65). Only bad news is my haematocrit is low (38 - normal range is aparently 40-54)), and my haemoglobin is a fraction low too (128 - normal is 135-175).
He's scheduled me in for a few tests to make sure there aren't any bleeds anywhere we should be worried about (inc a colonoscopy -ugh!!), but he said its more precautionary, and its probably worth it to get a 'full workover' as I rarely see a doc anyway so as to catch anything early that may be lurking...
Anyway - back to the point. Low haematocrit. Assuming no underlying cause, and that's just the genetic hand I've been dealt, there's not much I can do, is there? Just have to accept it'll always be a limiter? I have no intention of going down the meds (licit or otherwise) path - am I right in saying that, apart from long-term altitude training (I'm not moving to Mexico!) there isn't much I can do?
Abby (39yo male)
I understand that there are doctors who can deal with haematocrit levels...
...The only one I can think of (off the top of my head) is Dr Ferrari (he previously worked for US Postal Team in the Tour de France....)
In all seriousness though, I know NOTHING about haematocrit, although I would like to applaud your initiative in going to the Dr for blood work and a general check-over. I'm rarely sick, and generally only go to the Dr if I hurt myself, but went and had a full check up/blood works about 6 months ago (when I was in training for the Sydney half marathon). No problems, but just having everything checked out made me feel so much more confident in my training and everyday life - I would recommend it as something everyone should do once every now and then.
If your doctor thinks you're a bit anaemic, Abby, he or specialists should run through all the possible reasons, which might include diet (not enough iron, B12, etc).
BTW, EPO was actually first developed to boost the red blood cell count in cancer patients, IIRC.
Yep - he's getting me to get a 2nd blood test that includes Iron and B12 levels (as well as a couple of other things). Gotta get a urine and poo sample as well (to check for blood in both - feel sorry for the jar collectors), and booked in for a colonoscopy & something else (doc described it as 'telescopes in both ends', and laughed...).
Never had a colonscopy before - but apparently the 'prep drink' to clean everything out is an experience everyone should have at least once...
Anyway, will surely know the culprit (if any) after all that... At least I have a great excuse for being in C-Grade...
Mine is low as well.
I found out when I went to donate blood. It was above the to be concerned level but below the allowance for.donating blood.
Doc said.it.wasn't a.concern. I.race b grade.
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I remember reading that those with naturally low hemocrit had the most to gain from pumping up to 48-49 (under the UCI limit of 50)
I.e. someone with a natural level of 38 would gain HEAPS more lifting to 49 than someone from 46 to 49
That is pretty intuitive, but what it led me to believe is that two people of similar performance and netting similar results can have different hemocrit levels - it's not an indicator of performance potential. Maximising it just increases your performance potential. Subtle difference.
My advice would be to stay close to the toilet after you start the prep drink. Seriously.
And whatever you do, resist the urge to pass wind.
Yep, Tyler Hamilton said teams penalized naturally strong young riders because there wasn't more you could do to them with blood doping.
PS - those are the stages you will go through as it does its work. Except maybe the first.
I ride, therefore I am.
...real cyclists don't have squeaky chains...
If your doc has done all the tests to identify and correct all reversible causes of lower than range Hb and Hct levels, then just accept that's how you are. So called "normal range" is but a guide based on mass data and statistics. You can be outside the range and still considered normal. Don't get too hung up on the word. At the end of the day, it's no different to some people who are short and some are tall, each having their own limitations and advantages in life. Taking a different angle, your slightly lower Hb has the same effect as those high altitude training the pros and some rich amateurs pay big bucks for. You get it life long and for free.
if you've been punishing yourself on the bike recently, this can apparently cause your haemocrit to drop, temporarily. (this is why EPO is so effective in the latter stages of grand tours) your doctor could conceivably have assumed you lead a normal, sedentary lifestyle and that the measured level is stable.
Unless caused by some type of illness or disease most forms of anaemia appear to be caused by an iron deficiency.
This is a worthwhile read on this subject, in particular the section that indicates how efficiently iron is absorbed from the diet can be affected by some diet combinations.
Diagnosis and management of iron deficient anaemia
Hct can vary a lot. Eat a lot of salt and it can drop right down (known as 'saline flushing' in pro sports). The fact your hemo is low too isnt a good sign however. Get on the b12 shots and see what happens. Get off the dairy as that can hinder your iron absorption. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Get off the caffeine totally. Increasing your hemme iron isnt going to increase your health in the long term as you are just treating the symptom vs the cause. Its like trying to get out of debt by using a credit card. You want to eliminate the unhealthful habits from your life and then see where your blood profiles stand vs loading up on potentially toxic things like iron. Excess iron is actually worse than not enough.
I put all my blood tests on youtube for fellow cyclists/health nuts to see. My hct sits around 45-50 and hemo around 145-155. B12 around 800-1400 and my iron, ferritin etc are always solid.
Oh yeah, try and get to bed before 9pm for a few months if you want your blood health to improve. Body needs rest and LOTS of it!
Vegan since 2001.
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