Would You Recognize The Symptoms Of Anemia?

Your heart pumps blood through the lining of your lungs, picking up oxygen from the air you breathe. The blood then circulates throughout your body, providing oxygen (and other nutrients) to all your tissues and organs.

Anemia is a condition in which your blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen to all body parts.

Symptoms of Anemia

Since all of your organs and tissues need oxygenated blood, anemia can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including:

  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • dizziness and lightheadedness
  • fainting
  • headache
  • irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • chest pains
  • shortness of breath
  • pale skin or gums
  • cold hands and feet

Some types of anemia can also provoke symptoms such as:

  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • brittle nails
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • difficulty concentrating
  • unusual cravings (for ice, dirt, or clay)
  • poor appetite
  • weight loss

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Causes of Anemia

Every second, your bone marrow produces around 2 million red blood cells. In the same period, approximately the same amount of red blood cells are removed from circulation (after flowing through the body for around 3-4 months).

Anemia occurs when there is an imbalance in this process: either insufficient red blood cells are produced or too many are destroyed.

Red blood cell production can be affected by things such as:

  • malnourishment or poor diet (not enough iron, B12, or folate)
  • exposure to lead or other toxins
  • kidney disease
  • autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus)
  • some infections
  • hypothyroidism
  • some types of cancer (leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma)
  • some treatments for cancer (chemotherapy, radiation therapy)
  • genetic disorders

Increased red blood cell destruction can be due to:

  • blood loss
  • autoimmune disorders
  • some infections
  • exposure to lead or other toxins
  • liver disease
  • sickle cell disease
  • medication side effects
  • genetic disorders

Treatments for Anemia

Your doctor will run a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis and determine which type of anemia you have and any underlying conditions that may be causing or contributing to the anemia.

Anemia can cause serious and potentially life-threatening consequences if left untreated. Fortunately, it is usually easily treatable once diagnosed.

Treatment for anemia will vary depending on the cause but will typically include iron or vitamin supplements, blood transfusions, or treating the underlying cause.