These are just some of the symptoms people may feel if they have anemia – a common blood disorder that many develop at some point of their life.
Anemia occurs when the body has an insufficient number of healthy red blood cells. These cells are vital for delivering oxygen throughout your body. When there’s not enough oxygen circulating around, a person may feel very tired. They may also have headaches, pale skin and cold hands or feet.
While many people have iron-deficiency anemia, others may have anemia from blood loss. This can happen after an injury, childbirth or surgery. Women who have heavy menstrual periods are at risk for iron-deficiency anemia due to blood loss.
Women also need extra iron during pregnancy, according to Dr. Harvey Luksenburg, a specialist in blood diseases at the National Institutes of Health. If anemia isn’t treated during pregnancy, women can give birth to iron-deficient children, Luksenburg said. This lack of iron can affect a child’s growth rate and brain development.
“Women who feel symptoms of sluggishness and fatigue may be iron deficient,” Luksenburg says. “Even if you’ve lived with it a long time, get it checked. I’ve seen startling changes when women were put on iron supplements. Some say they’ve never felt better.”
Some people living with anemia never realize they have it because they have little or mild symptoms. A doctor can diagnose anemia with a simple blood test.
To prevent or treat iron-deficiency anemia:
- Eat foods that are rich in iron and B vitamins such as: red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, peas, lentils, beans, tofu, spinach, prunes, raisins and iron-fortified cereals and breads.
- Make sure to eat fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron.
- Ask a doctor about iron supplements.
- Women of child-bearing age who have heavy menstrual periods or have been previously diagnosed with anemia should be checked every two years.
Source: NIH News in Health