What Is Anemia?
Living with anemia could be quite difficult. Anemia is a condition when the blood in our body lack enough healthy RBCs or red blood cells to carry an adequate amount of oxygen to various tissues of our body. Anemia is also referred to as low hemoglobin. Being anemic or suffering from anemia can make an individual feel weak and extremely tired.
Anemia is one of the major and most common blood disorders in the U.S. and affects above three million Americans.(1) Most patients start experiencing some symptoms linked with anemia when their hemoglobin level drops below 7.0 g/dL.(2)
For some individuals, anemia can be short-term, while for others it might be a long-term condition. Anemia can be prevented if early signs are detected. Let us take a closer look at some of the warning signs of anemia that should never be ignored.
10 Warning Signs of Anemia You Should Never Ignore
Shortness Of Breath
Anemia makes you extremely tired and you might even become breathless.(3) When your body does not get enough oxygen, you start experiencing shortness of breath. This symptom could be one of the warning signs of anemia that you should not ignore. However, shortness of breath can also be due to various other conditions. So, if you experience it, contact your healthcare professional immediately.
Prone To Fatigue or General Weakness
One of the major warning signs of anemia you should never ignore is you start getting prone to fatigue or easily get weak. When you have anemia there is a reduced level of red blood cells, and this means that there is a reduced level of oxygen in your body. When there is a reduction in oxygen level, you can easily feel worn out and activity gets difficult for you.
Frequent Headaches and Feeling Dizzy
Another warning sign of anemia is that you start being affected with frequent headaches and repeated dizziness. You should never ignore this sign and must visit your doctor if you experience frequent headaches or dizziness.
Cramping and Tingling in Limbs
Anemia can also cause cramping and tingling in limbs. The large leg muscles in our body need a lot of oxygen and blood to function properly. When there is oxygen deprivation, you start feeling weak, have severe cramps in your limbs, and experience RLS or restless leg syndrome. If you are anemic, you might feel itchy and crawling sensations in your legs and feet, which might get worse at night, and that might further contribute to insomnia.
Pale Skin or Jaundice
Having pale skin or jaundice could be one of the warning signs of anemia. Paleness might occur because of not having enough red blood cells (RBCs). You might experience sudden paleness or develop it gradually when the condition of anemia gets chronic. Yellowing of the skin could be a warning sign of hemolytic anemia, which is caused by the breakdown of RBCs.
Chest Pain and Palpitation
Rapid heartbeat, chest pain, and palpitation might be connected to a lack of oxygen in the blood and that is the reason why anemic patients might experience these symptoms. A consistently rapid heart rate is not a good sign since it can be hazardous for your heart and the rest of the body. So, if you experience chest pain, rapid heartbeat, or palpitation, immediately consult with your doctor.
Cold Hands and Feet
One more warning sign of anemia is the sufferers experience cold hands and feet even in normal or warm weather. This happens due to poor blood circulation. When less amount of blood is delivered to the limbs, they turn cold.
Prolonged Menstrual Periods in Case of Women
The uterine canal in women comprises of uterine, which is a substance that can result in heavy amounts of blood loss during their periods and also delay their monthly cycle if they have anemia. So, if you are experiencing prolonged menstrual periods or heavy bleeding during your periods then it might be a warning sign of anemia and you should never ignore it.
Problems With Focusing
One more warning sign of anemia you should never ignore is problems with focusing. Iron deficiency, iron deficiency anemia, and non-iron deficiency anemia might result in cognitive deficits, though it remains unclear. These cognitive deficits might occur at any age. Hemoglobin levels are correlated to cognitive performance.(4) Inadequate levels of oxygen in the body can result in a diminishing of mental and physical energy levels, and this might cause problems with focusing.
Craving For Unusual Things To Eat/Pica Syndrome
One of the most unusual yet warning signs of anemia is craving for unusual things to eat or developing pica syndrome. When you have pica, you might be having an urge to eat things that are not actually food, such as ice cubes or dirt.
Pico syndrome remains a mysterious and interesting occurrence. However, it seems to be strongly linked with iron deficiency anemia.(5)
Anemia could be serious at times however, fortunately, it is treatable when diagnosed properly and early. If you or your loved ones are experiencing any of the warning signs of anemia that we discussed above, then without any further delay consult with your doctor and get yourself treated well.