Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Signs of Iron Deficiency Anemia

Anemia is a lack of hemoglobin. The most common cause is an iron deficiency. I have been an iron deficiency anemic my whole life. The simplest solution is to increase your intake of iron through dietary changes or to take iron supplements. The cause of this iron deficiency varies. It can be due to: menstrual bleeding, ulcers, the use of NSAIDS like aspirin or ibuprofen, childbirth, breastfeeding, blood donation, endurance training, caffeine and poor diet. Unfortunately, the symptoms for iron anemia can be categorized for at least two other conditions each. Over the years, I have come to isolate which symptoms usually pan out to be an iron deficiency for me.

  • Extreme fatigue - If I take a 2-4 hour nap and I still feel exhausted, or if I sleep through the night and am still sleepy, I classify that as extremely fatigued.

  • Pale skin - As a woman of color, this may present itself differently. I find that I get dark circles under my eyes that are not cured by water or sleep. Also, If I get a pimple or mosquito bite, there is immediately a black mark left behind, even if I don't pick at it. I also seem to bruise easily.

  • Weakness- During roller derby practice I find that I can't skate nearly as many laps as I could when I am not anemic. Unfortunately, the endurance training I go through in practice is also lowering my iron levels.

  • Shortness of breath - Just walking two blocks to my child's school can wear me out.

  • Headache - These headaches feel like migraines for me. They can literally knock me out.

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness - This isn't just when I stand or sit. This is simply turning my head really fast, once, from left to right. I also notice vision changes. Television and other moving images become blurry.

  • Cold hands and feet - No matter how hot it is, I get the chills. This is usually my first sign.

  • Fast heartbeat - This can sometimes feel like a panic attack or having too many espresso shots in my coffee.

  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch - I'm all but obsessed with ice when I'm anemic. I know it's reached a dangerous level when I am eating the ice and not drinking the liquid.

  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia - I tend to lose weight when I am anemic because I don't have an appetite anymore. All I want is ice. When I do eat, it's red meat but usually only one serving a week. This is usually when I take an iron supplement. or go see the doctor.

  • If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away. These could also be symptoms of even more serious illnesses than anemia. Anemia itself is pretty serious. You may wind up needing a blood transfusion after childbirth or during a simple surgical procedure that normally wouldn't call for it. Better to get in front of it now than to put it off.

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