Anemia - Signs, Symptoms, and Assistance

Group of friends | Healthier Me TodayAnemia is a condition that affects over 2 billion people (worldwide). It occurs when there is a decrease in the hemoglobin present in the red blood cells. Hemoglobin, which is a protein that is found in red blood cells, helps to transport oxygen to the tissues.

Iron deficiency anemia is the most prevalent type of anemia. It occurs when the body is deficient in iron. Since iron is critical to the production of hemoglobin, when it is in short supply, the body will not have enough oxygen.

While iron deficiency anemia affects both men and women, a recent study shows that it is more common in women. Many women lose huge amounts of iron when they have heavy menstruation. Poor diet and some health conditions can also result in iron deficiency anemia.

Category of Iron Deficiency Anemia

Health experts categorize iron-deficiency anemia based on the symptoms experienced by patients. The condition is regarded as severe if patients are experiencing symptoms like fast heartbeat, extreme fatigue, and shortness of breath. The condition is categorized as mild if a patient experiences symptoms like headaches. Note that many people with mild iron deficiency anemia don’t have any noticeable symptoms.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron deficiency anemia has a plethora of symptoms. Below are some of them.

  • Brittle nails
  • Dizziness
  • Craving for items with little or no nutritional value
  • Pale skin
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Tingling sensation in the legs
  • Sore or swollen tongue
  • Fatigue
  • Cold feet and hands

Diagnosis of Iron Deficiency Anemia

Below are some ways iron deficiency anemia is diagnosed.

CBC Test

A CBC (complete blood count) test helps measure the components of the blood (platelets, white blood cells, hematocrit, red blood cells, and hemoglobin). The test can provide some critical data that can help your doctor diagnose the condition. Below are a few things the test reveals.

  • The size of a patient’s red blood cells
  • A patient’s hemoglobin and hematocrit level

If a patient’s hemoglobin and hematocrit level are low, chances are, they have iron- deficiency anemia.

To determine the severity of a patient’s iron deficiency anemia, doctors may need to carry out more tests. They may carry out other blood tests to determine the following.

  • The amount of iron in the blood
  • The color and size of a patient’s Red blood cell
  • The TIBC (total binding capacity) and ferritin level  

How to Treat Iron Deficiency Anemia

Your doctor may recommend the following if you are diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia.

Dietary change  

A diet that is rich in foods like nuts, red meat, dried fruits, and dark green vegetables can help prevent and treat the condition.

If your body isn’t absorbing iron properly, your doctor may ask you to increase your Vitamin C intake. Vitamin C can speed up the rate at which your body absorbs iron. Fruits like black currants, oranges, and strawberries are rich in Vitamin C.

Iron supplements

Taking iron supplements will help restore your iron levels. Be sure to take them on an empty stomach so that your body can absorb them better. If you have a stomach upset when you do this, you should take the supplement with meals. Note that iron supplements can cause heartburn, constipation, and stomach upset.

How to manage Iron deficiency anemia

Here are some ways to manage iron deficiency anemia. Check in with your doctor before trying any of them.

Increase your folate intake

Folate plays a critical role in the secreting of hemoglobin. If our body doesn’t have enough of it, our blood cells aren’t going to mature. This, in turn, will lead to low hemoglobin levels. Below are some great sources of folate.

  • Rice
  • Beef
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Kidney beans
  • Peanuts
  • Avocadoes

Increase iron absorption

If your body isn’t absorbing iron properly, the condition may not improve even when you consume iron-rich foods. To increase the rate at which your body absorbs iron, you should increase your Vitamin A levels. Below are some foods that are rich in Vitamin A.

  • Liver
  • Kale
  • Fish
  • Collards  

FAQs

  1. What increases the risk of iron deficiency anemia? The following can increase the odds of you developing iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Blood loss
  • Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Low iron intake
  • Some genetic conditions
  • Lifestyle choices (frequent blood donation and following a vegan diet)

2. How do I prevent iron deficiency anemia? To prevent iron deficiency anemia, you should do the following. 

  • Add iron-rich foods to your diet.
  • Eat foods that will help your body absorb iron like vegetables and strawberries.
  • Don’t drink coffee with meals.

Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!

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Mark started working hard, protecting species, educating people and campaigning with Mary from day one

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