Anemia is a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body’s tissues. It is a common medical condition that gets diagnosed several thousand cases per year.
If you’ve been feeling weak and fatigued and you manifest with other nutritional issues, it could point to anemia. Once diagnosed, anemia can be easy to treat – and if you know that you might be at risk, it can be easy to prevent the factors that trigger it. Sometimes other dietary factors, other health conditions and a family history of conditions like anemia can mean that you are far more at risk yourself. Are you a potentially high risk for developing anemia?
Here’s what you should know.
Anemia very often goes together with other health conditions that might be the underlying cause of the manifesting anemia (or be the factor that’s making it worse). Any chronic health condition that causes malabsorption is bound to cause issues with the number of nutrients that your body is able to take in – and this could mean anemia as a result.
If you experience any signs or symptoms of anemia or you notice that your health isn’t generally what you would expect it to be, it’s time to see your doctor.
Regular Doctor’s Appointments
Speaking of seeing your doctor, make sure you attend regular doctor’s appointments can be one of the best things that you ever do for your health. It doesn’t have to be limited to a doctor’s appointment only when you think you are sick: The key to good health is to have it checked out on a regular basis even when you don’t feel ill in any way.
Seeing your doctor before you get sick can be one of the best ways possible to prevent and manage most health conditions, including anemia.
Increasing Iron Intake
If you are anemic, it generally means that one of the things you’ll have to do to get back on track will be to change your diet around. Increase the amount of iron-rich foods in your diet, which can include things like meat, fish and beans (if you are vegetarian). Anyone else should be able to benefit from the use of supplements instead. Look for either specific iron supplements or general multivitamins that contain iron.
Iron for Vegetarians
If you happen to be vegetarian, then getting in the ample amount of iron can be difficult: Meat is the most common source of dietary iron for most people, but what are vegetarians supposed to do if they struggle with anemia and want to still adhere to their diet?
There are plenty of other options out there available to any vegetarians who have to increase their iron levels – and it’s not necessary to resort to supplements as your first option. Consuming items like legumes and beans is a great, healthy and natural way in which you can increase your iron intake without the addition of meat.
The most common symptom of all types of anemia is a feeling of fatigue and a lack of energy.
Other common symptoms may include:
- paleness of skin
- fast or irregular heartbeat
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
In mild cases, there may be few or no symptoms.
Some forms of anemia can have specific symptoms:
- Aplastic anemia: fever, frequent infections, and skin rashes
- Folic acid deficiency anemia: irritability, diarrhea, and a smooth tongue
- Hemolytic anemia: jaundice, dark colored urine, fever, and abdominal pains
- Sickle cell anemia: painful swelling of the feet and hands, fatigue, and jaundice
There is a range of treatments for anemia. They all aim to increase the red blood cell count. This, in turn, increases the amount of oxygen the blood carries.
Treatment will depend on the type and cause of anemia.
- Iron deficiency anemia: Iron supplements (which are available to buy online) or dietary changes. If the condition is due to loss of blood, the bleeding must be found and stopped.
- Vitamin deficiency anemias: Treatments include dietary supplements and B-12 shots.
- Thalassemia: Treatment includes folic acid supplementation, removal of the spleen, and, sometimes, blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants.
- Anemia of chronic disease: This is anemia associated with a serious, chronic underlying condition. There are no specific treatments, and the focus is on the underlying condition.
- Aplastic anemia: The patient will receive blood transfusions or bone marrow transplants.
- Sickle cell anemia: Treatment includes oxygen therapy, pain relief, and intravenous fluids. There may also be antibiotics, folic acid supplements, and blood transfusions. A cancer drug known as Droxia or Hydrea is also used.
- Hemolytic anemias: Patients should avoid medication that may make it worse and they may receive immunosuppressant drugs and treatment for infections. Plasmapheresis, or blood-filtering, might be necessary in some cases.
Anemia can occur in people of all ages and races, both males and females. However, certain factors increase the risk.
- pregnancy and childbirth
- being born preterm
- being aged 1 to 2 years
- having a diet that is low in vitamins, mineral, and iron
- losing blood from surgery or injury
- long-term or serious illness, such as AIDs, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, heart failure, and liver disease
- family history of inherited anemias, such as sickle cell anemia
- intestinal disorders-affects absorption of nutrients
The outlook for a person with anemia depends on the cause. Many cases of anemia can be prevented or solved through a change in diet. Some types can last for a long time, and some can be life-threatening without treatment.
Anyone who feels persistently weak and tired should see a doctor check for anemia.
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