Anemia is a common blood disorder that affects more than 1.6 billion people worldwide. It occurs when the number of healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body drops to abnormal levels or when the cells do not contain enough hemoglobin.
Most of the approximately 3.5 million Americans with anemia are caused by insufficient iron (microcytic anemia) or low vitamin B-12 levels (pernicious anemia). Both of these, along with folic acid (vitamin B-9), are necessary for the production of healthy red blood cells.
People most susceptible to anemia are children, menstruating women (heavy menstrual bleeding), and pregnant women. People with chronic illnesses, such as ulcers, or people who have recently had surgery may be anemic. People of African descent are particularly prone to sickle cell anemia, in which red blood cells are curved like a sickle.
Common symptoms of anemia
- Breathing problems, dizziness, headache
When you are healthy, your heart, muscles, and organs receive more oxygen. Anemia makes it harder for the lungs to breathe to bring in more oxygen.
Low hemoglobin levels prevent enough oxygen from reaching the brain. Blood vessels swell, blood pressure drops, headaches, nervousness, and dizziness.
Even the slightest exertion can cause shortness of breath or fainting.
- Chest pain and palpitations
Heart palpitations, palpitations, and feelings of anxiety (due to a lack of sympathetic nervous system) can be associated with a lack of oxygen in the blood.
A constant rapid heartbeat is not good for your heart or the rest of your body. When blood oxygen levels are low, the heart works harder to compensate. This puts a lot of stress on the heart, which can cause rapid, irregular heartbeats and pain.
Untreated anemia can worsen underlying cardiovascular problems. Extreme cases can lead to an enlarged heart, heart murmurs, or even heart failure.
- Cold hands and feet
People with anemia have cold hands and feet even in warm weather due to poor blood circulation. Decreased blood flow and coldness in the limbs.
- Cramps and cramps in limbs
Big leg muscles require a lot of blood and oxygen to work. The lack of oxygen makes them work overtime, causing fatigue, weakness, severe cramps, and restless leg syndrome (RLS), which can lead to insomnia.
Anemic patients experience crawling and itching on their legs and feet, which is worse at night.
Fatigue easily and waking up tired despite a good night’s sleep are common and serious symptoms of anemia. This is due to the reduction and deterioration of red blood cells, which cannot deliver the necessary amount of oxygen to the organs, which in turn cannot work effectively.
This can lead to abnormal fatigue, weakness, and weakness.
Anemia is often the first symptom of hypothyroidism. Fatigue, such as weight gain and a drop in body temperature, can be symptoms of an underactive thyroid that occurs alongside iron-deficiency anemia.
- Lack of iron and vitamin B-12
Without enough iron or vitamin B-12, the body cannot make enough of a protein called hemoglobin, which is important for the function of red blood cells. Hemoglobin is rich in iron and gives blood its red color.
Hemoglobin allows oxygen to bind to cells so that oxygen can be carried throughout the body through the bloodstream. Without enough iron or vitamin B-12, parts of the body don’t receive the oxygen they need.