Dr. Allen Nissenson argues that “One of the dilemmas with anemia is that the symptoms are pretty ubiquitous: tiredness, weakness, some difficulty in thinking clearly. They’re all kind of vague.” Indeed, most human beings would find it very difficult to determine if they actually have anemia or not, and this is alarming because iron-deficiency anemia is an extremely common—yet subtle—disease in reality. The human body requires iron because it is essential for making healthy red blood cells; these cells help to prevent cuts or menstruation from becoming serious or severe injuries. Nissenson explains that “Bleeding is one of the most prominent causes of iron deficiency, because when you bleed you lose red blood cells that contain iron.” With all this in mind, please scrutinize the list below so you’ll be better equipped to spot anemia in yourself or in someone else—and so you’ll be more capable of preventing a serious injury or loss of life.
As per the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, “The most common symptom of all types of anemia is fatigue [tiredness]. Fatigue occurs because your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to its many parts.” It’s important to keep in mind that fatigue could also be caused by stress, sickness, or other illnesses, but take special note if the fatigue more closely resembles exhaustion and extreme sluggishness.
#2: Paleness of membranes.
This is a great indicator of anemia: look for a waterline that is above your lower lash line, since this region is full of veins which should be pumping healthy blood. If your waterline under your lower lashes appears pale, it could be a strong sign of anemia.
#3: Difficulty catching a breath.
According to Associate Professor of Medicine and Director Noah Lechtzin, “Most people with anemia are comfortable sitting still. However, they often feel dyspnea during physical activity because the blood cannot deliver the increased oxygen the body requires. Thus, they breathe rapidly and deeply in a reflex effort to try to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood.” With this in mind, if climbing stairs wind you out, your body likely isn’t receiving enough oxygen through healthy red blood cells. Additionally, dizziness and feeling light-headed are also signs of anemia.
If you’ve developed symptoms of anxiety like a racing heart, your blood is probably pumping both harder and faster than it should be—potentially due to anemia. After lacking oxygen, it’s also common to feel anxious and to think anxiously.
If the human body can’t get enough blood everywhere it would like blood to go, the body will begin to repurpose the blood for your extremities almost exclusively for your organs. As a result of this, you could experience numbness in your arms, hands, legs, or feet if you’re suffering from anemia.
If you experience regular headaches in addition to some of the other symptoms that have been discussed, then it could be much more than a simple headache that all human beings experience every once in a while. Moreover, if pain relievers never seem to ease your headache pain entirely, you should consult a doctor and request to be examined for possible anemia.
#7: Heavy or strange periods.
Uterine fibroids located inside of the uterine cavity can often cause intense pain and/or heavy periods, and anemia could be responsible for the circumstances as a whole. If you experience these symptoms—especially if you also experience bleeding and painful cramps—do seek an examination from a doctor.
#8: Difficulty focusing.
If it sometimes seems as though you’re moving or thinking through life in a dreamlike fog or haze, it could be a result of anemia. What’s more, anemia can also cause difficulties with keeping thoughts straight and concentrating in general: as per registered dietician and certified diabetes educator Maria Ricupero, “Low iron levels can have an impact on work performance, judgment and the ability to focus.”
Once you’re able to spot the signs, it’s also up to you to seek help or to do everything in your power to ensure that help will be sought as soon as possible.
*Inspired by Power of Positivity.