What is anemia?

Anemia is a condition that affects your red blood cells. It occurs when your blood doesn’t have enough hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.


Often there are no symptoms, but the most common
symptoms may be:
• Paleness
• Fatigue
• Shortness of breath during exercise
• Unusual food cravings (known as pica)
• Fast heartbeat
• Cold hands and feet
• Brittle nails or hair loss
• Headaches
• Light-headedness

Symptoms of anemia_cop

What can lead to low iron levels in the blood?

Lack of iron in the diet: This is mostly a problem for children and young women. Small children who drink large amounts of milk and avoid iron-rich foods and young women who follow fad diets or are vegetarian may be at risk for low iron levels. Growth spurts: Children under age three are growing so fast that their bodies may have a hard time keeping up with the amount of iron they need. Pregnancy: Women who are pregnant or are breastfeeding need more iron. Blood loss: Heavy periods may cause anemia.
Blood loss can also be caused by internal bleeding, usually in the digestive tract. A stomach ulcer, ulcerative colitis, cancer, or taking anti-inflammatory pills such as Ibuprofen or Aspirin for a long time can cause bleeding in your stomach or intestines. That’s why it’s so important to find the reason for a low iron level. Inability to absorb iron: Diseases that affect your small intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients can lead to anemia. Some foods or medicines, including milk or stomach acid-lowering medicines, can also prevent your body from absorbing iron.


How is anemia diagnosed?

Talk to your doctor if you think you might have anemia. Your doctor will order a blood test to diagnose anemia. Other tests may also be needed to find out what’s causing the anemia. Vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiency can also lead to anemia.

How is anemia treated?

This depends on what’s causing the anemia. For example, if anemia results from losing too much blood, the cause of the blood loss will need to be found and treated. If anemia results from a diet that’s low in iron, your doctor may suggest that you change your diet or that you take iron pills to increase the amount of iron in your body.

Foods high in iron

• Liver and red meat
• Seafood (sardines)
• Dried fruits like apricots, prunes, and raisins
• Nuts
• Beans
• Green leafy vegetables, such as greens, parsley, spinach, and broccoli
• Whole grains
• Iron fortified foods like many breads and cereals (check their labels)