Did you know that anemia affects more than 1.6 billion people in the world? Anemia, or iron deficiency, can affect people of any age or gender. Because of this, it is one of the most common mineral deficiencies on the globe.
The signs and symptoms of anemia start subtle and then become more obvious and debilitating. Anemia is very treatable, so identifying the signs early is key to not letting this deficiency impact your life.
In hope of helping you identify the signs of iron deficiency, we put together this comprehensive guide. To learn more about anemia, read on!
What Is Anemia?
Hemoglobin is a protein that’s used to transport oxygen to your muscles through your bloodstream. Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin. If you don’t have enough iron in your diet or are losing too much iron, your body can’t produce enough red blood cells or hemoglobin.
Between the low red blood cell count and low levels of hemoglobin, your blood isn’t able to effectively fuel your body with oxygen.
Causes of Anemia
Several groups of people are identified as having an increased risk of anemia. Women, infants, vegetarians, and frequent blood donors are all at risk due to regular loss of iron and iron-deficient diets.
Anemia is most common in women because they lose iron regularly during menstruation. Pregnant women can experience anemia as their iron stores are used up to support the growth of the fetus.
In addition, anemia can be caused or exacerbated by some diets. Some examples of iron-rich foods include leafy vegetables, red meat, and eggs. If your diet lacks these staples, your diet probably lacks iron which can contribute to anemia.
Certain intestinal disorders like celiac disease can also cause anemia due to an inability to absorb iron. This means that any iron you consume will pass right through you, without your body taking advantage of it. Having part of your intestine removed surgically can also impact iron absorption in this way.
Signs and Symptoms of Anemia
Anemia is an insidious deficiency because the signs begin so subtly they almost always go unnoticed. However, as the problem compounds and the deficiency worsens, the signs of anemia become unavoidable.
The classic symptom of anemia is extreme fatigue. Due to the lack of oxygen in the blood, the body is unable to fuel even simple movement. People with anemia might be exhausted from just standing up.
The fatigue of anemia is joined by weakness, as the muscles lack effective blood flow. In addition, the person might experience chest pain, a fluttering heartbeat, headache, or lightheadedness.
Poor blood flow will also result in cold hands and feet and pale skin.
Due to the deficiency, the person will also experience cravings for strange substances like ice, starch, or even dirt. Children or infants will also exhibit a poor appetite.
Mild forms of anemia won’t cause complications, but if left untreated iron deficiency can lead to some severe health issues.
Low blood volume and a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream mean that the heart has to work harder to compensate. This can lead to heart problems like an enlarged heart or, in severe cases, heart failure.
If it occurs during pregnancy, anemia can cause premature birth and has been cited as a cause of low birth weight babies. This is one reason that most doctors prescribe an iron supplement during prenatal care.
Children and infants with anemia often end up with delayed growth and development. They are also more susceptible to infections.
How Is Anemia Diagnosed?
Due to the potential severity, if you notice you have any symptoms of anemia it’s best to see a doctor.
A doctor will take a small sample of blood and run a blood test called a complete blood count. A blood count test can detect anemia by revealing a low red blood cell count. In addition, doctors can test for iron levels, red blood cell size, and iron-binding capacity.
If they’re concerned about an underlying cause of your anemia, they might run a few other tests for internal bleeding.
Anemia is almost always treated with an iron supplement. This is an incredibly effective treatment, as it revitalizes your whole bloodstream.
In addition, if you show any signs you need more iron, you can try changing your diet up. Eat more red meat, nuts, and iron-fortified grains.
There are several different methods for taking an iron supplement. The most common is a daily pill, but the most effective is an iron IV. An iron IV delivers the iron directly to your blood.
Due to its direct administration, an iron IV replenishes iron levels with better absorption than an oral supplement. In addition, with an iron tablet, it takes time for the mineral to build up to an effective level. With an IV, iron levels stabilize much more quickly.
You can read more about the benefits of an iron IV supplement here.
Keep an Eye Out for Anemia Signs
Although anemia is a common deficiency, it’s also incredibly treatable. As long as you are alert to the signs and symptoms of anemia, you can catch it early and take control of it before it gets severe. If you have anemia, consider an iron IV for easy and effective treatment!
If you enjoyed learning about how to stay alert for anemia, you’ll love our other content! Check out our blog for more tips, tricks, and advice!