Anemia is an iron deficiency, which means that the body does not have sufficient iron to produce enough hemoglobin for the blood. As a result, the number of red blood cells starts to go down. Iron is a vital element of the body, required to produce red blood cells, particularly hemoglobin, which is that part of the cells that binds with oxygen. These cells carry oxygen and bring it to the different organs in the blood. For those who have a below average red blood cell count, their tissues and organs are not getting enough oxygen, and this can have complex consequences.
Understanding the Various Anemia Signs and Symptoms:
When people talk about anemia, they inevitably mean iron anemia. However, there are other types of anemia as well. These include deficiencies in folate or vitamin B12, for instance. While these conditions are equally important to treat, they present with different signs and symptoms.
When discussing anemia signs and symptoms in terms of iron anemia, it is common to only notice a few symptoms. How bad these symptoms are depends on how rapidly the anemia develops. Some people notice symptoms straight away. Others find that they develop slowly over time, usually because they have an underlying health condition. A stomach ulcer is quite a common cause of anemia, for instance.
The most common anemia signs and symptoms include:
– Lethargy – feel tired and lacking energy
– Being short of breath
– Having heart palpitations, which means you can feel your heartbeat
– Your complexion turning pale
There are also some not so common symptoms, including:
– Tinnitus, which means you hear sounds inside the body, rather than hearing the outside world
– Feeling itchy
– Sense of taste changing
– An abnormally smooth or sore tongue
– Loss of hair
– Insomnia, which means you find it hard to sleep
– Wanting to eat things like clay, paper, ice, or other non-food items, a condition known as pica
– Dysphagia, which means you struggle to swallow
– Ulcers and other painful open sores in the mouth's corners
– Nails shaped like spoons
When to Get Help:
If you experience any of the iron anemia symptoms, you should seek medical attention. A simple blood test can diagnose it. If you do have it, your physician will also be able to provide you with treatment.
The Causes of Anemia:
There are a lot of reasons as to why someone may have an iron deficiency, or anemia. If you are a man or a postmenopausal woman, the most likely reason is that your intestines or stomach are bleeding, which is one of the reasons why you should seek medical attention. Stomach or intestine bleeds can be caused by stomach cancer, stomach ulcers, bowel cancer, or because you take NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
If you are female and of reproductive age, you can also become anemic because of pregnancy, child birth, miscarriage, and/or heavy periods. This is because of the blood loss or, if you are pregnant, because the body requires more iron in order to develop the baby. If you are not pregnant, it is very rare for anemia to develop simply because of lack of iron in food.