If you have anemia, people may say you have tired blood. That’s because anemia – a condition in which there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues can make you feel tired.
There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.
Anemia is a common blood disorder. Women and people with chronic diseases are at increased risk of the condition.
If you suspect you have anemia, see your doctor. Anemia can be a sign of serious illnesses. Treatments for anemia range from taking supplements to undergoing medical procedures. You may be able to prevent some types of anemia by eating a healthy, varied diet.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
The main symptom of most types of anemia is fatigue. Other anemia symptoms include:
A fast or irregular heartbeat
Shortness of breath
Numbness or coldness in your extremities
Initially, anemia can be so mild it goes unnoticed. But signs and symptoms increase as the condition worsens
NUTRITION FOR PATIENTS WITH ANEMIA
Many types of anemia can’t be prevented. However, you can help avoid iron deficiency anemia and vitamin deficiency anemias by eating a healthy, varied diet that includes foods rich in iron, folate and vitamin B-12.
The best sources of iron are beef and other meats. Other foods rich in iron include beans, lentils, iron-fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, nuts and seeds. Folate, and its synthetic form, folic acid, can be found in citrus juices and fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, legumes and fortified breakfast cereals. Vitamin B-12 is plentiful in meat and dairy products. Foods containing vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, help increase iron absorption.
Eating plenty of iron-containing foods is particularly important for people who have high iron requirements, such as children – iron is needed during growth spurts – and pregnant and menstruating women. Adequate iron intake is also crucial for infants, strict vegetarians and long-distance runners.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE
See your doctor if you’re feeling fatigued for unexplained reasons, especially if you’re at risk of anemia. Some anemias, such as iron deficiency anemia, are common. But don’t assume that if you’re tired, you must be anemic. Fatigue has many causes besides anemia.
Some people learn that their hemoglobin is low, which indicates anemia, when they go to donate blood. Low hemoglobin may be a temporary problem remedied by eating more iron-rich foods or taking a multivitamin containing iron. However, it may also be a warning sign of blood loss in your body that may be causing you to be deficient in iron. If you’re told that you can’t donate blood because of low hemoglobin, ask your doctor if you should be concerned.
If you have a family history of an inherited anemia, such as sickle cell anemia, talk to your doctor and possibly a genetic counselor about your risk and what risks you may pass on to your children