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8 Signs You Might Have Anemia

2 min read

Pale woman with cancer

You have been feeling overly fatigued, dizzy and unmotivated. A friend suggests you might have anemia, so what are some common signs?

What Is Anemia? 

Anemia is a condition that causes poorly functioning or abnormally formed red blood cells (RBCs). The signs and symptoms of anemia are related to the type of anemia, severity and underlying cause.

Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common type. It occurs when the body does not have enough iron to properly make hemoglobin, a protein needed to carry oxygen inside RBCs.

Other causes of anemia include B12 deficiency, genetic disorders, inflammatory diseases and lead poisoning.

What Are Signs of Anemia?

Since iron-deficiency anemia is most prevalent, here are a few of the most common signs that you might have this type of anemia:

  1. Fatigue. Fatigue is the most common symptom of iron deficiency. It is caused when oxygen does not properly reach all the body’s tissues. Additionally, your heart has to work harder to move oxygen around, and this can make you extremely tired.
  1. Dizziness. Inadequate oxygen for the body also means inadequate oxygen for the brain. This means you may feel dizzy from time to time when the brain is not getting the oxygen it needs.
  1. Rapid heartbeat. This can result when the heart is working hard to pump enough oxygen.
  1. Pale Skin. Low levels of hemoglobin cause pale skin and paleness inside the lower eyelids. Hemoglobin gives the blood its red color, so lack of hemoglobin makes the blood and the skin less red.
  1. Restless legs. Approximately 25% of people with Restless Leg Syndrome have been found to have iron deficiency anemia. Generally, the worse the anemia is, the worse the restless legs symptoms.
  1. Pica. People with pica have cravings for strange non-food substances such as paper, ice and dirt. The disorder can be a sign of severe iron deficiency.
  1. Feeling cold all the time. Always being cold might be one symptom of anemia, since the limited oxygen in the blood is unable to keep the whole body warm. The feeling of coldness might be limited to hands and feet.
  1. Low immune function. Do you get every cold or flu that you come in contact with? This may be a sign of anemia as iron is needed to help support a healthy immune system.

It is important to know that some people do not experience any symptoms when they have anemia. Many of the symptoms of anemia are also symptoms of other conditions, so it is important to see a doctor to be sure. 

What to Do If You Think You Have Anemia

The only way to diagnose anemia is with a blood test and medical exam; therefore you will need to see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. There are many underlying causes of anemia, so a doctor will need to identify which type you have.

If you think your anemia is caused by iron deficiency, you should not take iron supplements without a doctor’s recommendation. You can always eat high-iron foods to see if that helps you feel better. These include red meat, liver, beans and fortified cereals. The right diagnosis and treatment plan is the best way to feel better right away.