Have you ever stood up too fast and immediately blacked out or felt dizzy? Do your hands feel cold, or do you often feel anxious? Has your fair complexion been pointed out more times than you can count? Yes, this all may sound like a character from Twilight, but these are actually small clues that you might be anemic.
There is a common misconception, that you will only become anemic if you are a vegetarian. While vegetarians can sometimes be at a higher risk if they neglect iron from their diet, in actuality, a much larger number of people are susceptible to becoming anemic.
In fact, anemia affects about 24.8 percent of the world’s population. That’s about 1.62 billion anemic people. Long story short, you too could be anemic. Puts it into perspective, right?
What Even is Anemia?
When you’re anemic, you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry the needed amount of oxygen throughout your body. A lack of the proper vitamins will often prevent your body from producing red blood cells.
An iron deficiency will prevent your bone marrow from producing the correct amount of hemoglobin.
Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that helps your red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body. So, even if you are producing the right amount of red blood cells, they may still not have the tools that they need to transport oxygen. This can lead to extreme fatigue that will usually worsen with time.
Your body’s cells and tissue need oxygen to function, so if they aren’t getting it, the repercussions can be drastic. Think of it like sticking your head underwater for 5 minutes. The lack of oxygen isn’t great, right?
What Causes Anemia?
There are more than 400 types of anemia, all of which are classified into the following three categories:
- Anemia caused by blood loss
- Anemia caused by decreased or faulty red blood cell production
- Anemia caused by the destruction of red blood cells
Some people are more susceptible to anemia than others. You are more likely to be anemic if you:
- Are a vegetarian
- Have an intestinal disorder
- Experience heavy menstruation
- Are pregnant
- Have chronic conditions such as cancer or kidney failure
- Your family has a history of an inherited anemia
Here’s What You Should Know
Anyone can develop anemia whether it be due to their diet, another medical condition, genetics, pregnancy, heavy menstruation, or age.
Additionally, it is believed by some that only children at a preschool age can develop this disease, however, those over 65 are at an equal risk of anemia.
Anemia can even be developed when someone donates blood too often. Sometimes, getting that star donor status is not always what you or your body needs. If you’ve recently experienced any of the following symptoms, then there’s the possibility that you might be anemic.
- Feelings of weakness
- Paleness or sallow skin
- Shortened breath or trouble breathing
- Headaches and Dizziness
- Heart Palpitations
- Dry or Damaged Hair
- Swelling and Soreness
- Restless Legs or leg cramps
- Brittle Nails
- Cold hands and feet
What Should You Do?
If you suspect that you are anemic, it is important to get tested as soon as possible. Anemia can prevent you from completing regular day-to-day tasks. If left alone, it can cause future pregnancy complications, heart problems, or even death. Anemia can also be a side effect of something much worse, such as internal bleeding or malaria.
So, who has time to make a doctors appointment every time they feel tired? We’ve all been there. Phone tag, hours spent in the waiting room, talking with your doctor for a just few minutes before scheduling another appointment for blood work. A visit to the doctor can be a daunting task, but your health should not have to suffer the consequences.
Lab testing is an easy alternative to visiting the doctor. Sites like HealthLabs.com make it convenient to set up an appointment or walk-in for a lab near you. There is no referral needed, there are no hidden fees, the same labs are used by your local doctor, it’s secure and confidential, and ultimately, it’s just more convenient.
The comprehensive anemia blood test checks for a variety of blood disorders. It ensures that your body has enough, red blood cells, white blood cells, hemoglobin, blood platelets, ferritin, folic acid, and vitamin B-12.
If You Find Out That Yes, You Are Definitely Anemic
If you are anemic, there are few simple changes you can usually make to your diet, that will increase your iron intake, and build up those little red blood cells.
Iron Rich Foods:
- Meat: beef, lamb, ham, turkey, chicken, veal, pork, dried beef, liver, liverwurst
- Seafood: shrimp, clams, scallops, oysters, tuna, sardines, haddock, mackerel
- Vegetable: spinach, sweet potatoes, peas, broccoli, string beans, beet greens, dandelion greens, collards, kale, chard
- Bread and Cereals: white bread, whole wheat bread, enriched pasta, wheat products, bran cereal
- Fruit: strawberries, watermelon, raisins, dates, figs, prunes, dried apricots, dried peaches
- Beans and Other Foods: eggs, tofu, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, white beans, dried peas, lentils, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses
If small changes to your diet aren’t going to cut it, you may also consider taking an iron vitamin, a B-12 vitamin, or a folic acid vitamin. These are vitamins that are often recommended to pregnant women, for this purpose.
If your condition has not improved after focusing on your diet and vitamin intake, you should definitely visit the doctor and consider a blood transfusion. You should also consider getting tested for thyroid problems, because it often exhibits a lot of the same symptoms as anemia.
Everything Will Be Okay
Don’t panic! The good news is that you are aware, and you will be able to live a completely normal life with anemia.