Is Beta Thalassemia Minor A Limiter?

I am a 36, female. I am a high level, sponsored endurance athlete. I have always had weird 'things' happen throughout the years when my level of training and intensity increased. Recently, and accidentally, I was diagnosed with beta thalassemia minor. There seems to be little research out there on this and endurance athletes. I JUST KNOW my symptoms are related to this!. I spoke with a hematologist breifly, and a pulmonologist in passing, (because most of my symptoms are cardiac, and/or oxygenation related) and they both say that Beta Thal Minor is asymptomatic. But how can that be when you are pushing your heart, lungs, muscles to their max? Are they truly getting the oxygen that the 'normal' person gets? I KNOW I AM ON TO SOMETHING! It all makes sense! Is there research out there on this? I am a perfect subject for it, and would love to contribute to the research. (I am assuming there is not a lot of research done as endurance sports have only been going on for a few decades, AND I can't seem to find any studies on the web.) My understanding of B thal minor is that my red blood cells are 'mutated' (that's what the hematologist said).

My symptoms are (at exertion and/or altitude) high HR, runs of SVT, SOB, severe dizziness, fainting, pale, and blue toenails and fingernails.
I have worn a Holter moniter, done a stress test, lung tests, and lots of blood work up. I am healthy and strong throughout!
My theory is this.. If my RBC are 'mutated', then how are they all actually carrying 4 molecules of oxygen?
This would totally explain my symptoms! The supply of the oxygen isn't meeting the demand of my body at exertion.

Thoughts?



tetonkb tetonkb
36-40
6 Responses Sep 2, 2013

I am an RN and completing an Anthroposophical Nursing advanced education certification. I'm hoping to bring our condition into a case study in Nutrition. Would you be willing to correspond outside of this website to be a part of this study? In return, you would be provided with all my findings and research. Please respond to: nurseleathers (at) gmail (dot) com. Thank you!

Please see my essay!

I'm also a beta thal minor and totally agree! While I'm just a year into endurance sports (triathlon), I'm nowhere near my peers in terms of pace. My heart rate is 170+ just to maintain a 10:30 mile while running. It's ridiculous. But, I have no intention of quitting so I'll just keep plugging along at my slow pace! I get the job done.

I am an RN and completing an Anthroposophical Nursing advanced education certification. I'm hoping to bring our condition into a case study in Nutrition. Would you be willing to correspond outside of this website to be a part of this study? In return, you would be provided with all my findings and research. Please respond to: nurseleathers (at) gmail (dot) com. Thank you!

I have B thal minor. I have known about this all my life, i am now 40. While I have usually kept up moderate exercise throughout my life, I recently signed up to a bootcamp-style fitness program. To say I struggled woud be an understatement. I couldnt keep up with the intensity of the classes. The feeling was like the oxygen I was breathing just wasnt getting around my body. After resting for a couple of minutes I had recovered enough to re-join the class. It was pretty humiliating and I stopped going. I tried researching how B thal minor affects exercise, but not much came up until i Googled Exertion Thalassemia Minor and found this post.

I am an RN and completing an Anthroposophical Nursing advanced education certification. I'm hoping to bring our condition into a case study in Nutrition. Would you be willing to correspond outside of this website to be a part of this study? In return, you would be provided with all my findings and research. Please respond to: nurseleathers (at) gmail (dot) com. Thank you!

My husband has beta thal minor and has an elevated HR when he does cardio. He discovered this when he was doing a lab in kinesiology and his HR was very far from normal. He mostly notices a lack of endurance, but he has been able to train towards increasing it.

Whoever told you that beta thal minor is always asymptomatic is completely wrong. Many people have symptoms.

I am an RN and completing an Anthroposophical Nursing advanced education certification. I'm hoping to bring our condition into a case study in Nutrition. Would you be willing to correspond outside of this website to be a part of this study? In return, you would be provided with all my findings and research. Please respond to: nurseleathers (at) gmail (dot) com. Thank you!

Unfortunately I will have to decline. My husband and I are now divorced. Good luck with your study.

I am also a thal minor and just finished my 5th marathon.. and I am having the same issues that you indicate... My coach has indicated that there is a lot related to this and if I can make it to get a higher hemoglobin / red blood cell count I can reduce the issues I am having. As of now I have not met a Dr. who would take over this as some has said that as a thal minor I should not be doing this.

I am an RN and completing an Anthroposophical Nursing advanced education certification. I'm hoping to bring our condition into a case study in Nutrition. Would you be willing to correspond outside of this website to be a part of this study? In return, you would be provided with all my findings and research. Please respond to: nurseleathers (at) gmail (dot) com. Thank you!