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What are the Symptoms of Anemia?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2016
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The symptoms of anemia can vary, depending on the type that a patient has. In most cases, this condition has a slow onset, and the body will compensate for the lack of iron, masking the symptoms in the early stages and making anemia hard to identify. It can be diagnosed with the assistance of a blood test to check hematocrit levels, and if patients are experiencing any signs of anemia, they should be sure to mention them to a medical professional during an exam.

Many of the symptoms can be seen in all cases, regardless of the cause. Pale skin, fatigue, an irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, weakness, and shortness of breath are symptoms, as are a sense of feeling light headed, chest pain, dizziness, fainting, and cold skin. Patients can also experience changes in stool color, nausea, and heart attacks. The longer the anemia persists, the more severe the symptoms will become.

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If anemia is caused by iron deficiency, patients can experience strange food cravings, caused by the body's attempt to up its iron intake. B12 anemia can be accompanied by clumsiness, numbness, tingling, and dementia, while anemia caused by lead poisoning is accompanied with vomiting and a classic blue to black line on the gums known as a lead line. If anemia is the result of red blood cell destruction, patients can develop jaundice, dark urine, and leg ulcers. Sickle cell anemia is classically associated with susceptibility to infection, delayed growth, and fatigue.

Sometimes, anemia is associated with another medical condition, and the symptoms of that condition may be present first. Growing children, pregnant women, and people with a poorly balanced diet are at increased risk of becoming anemic. Patients who develop the symptoms of anemia should make time to visit a healthcare professional to get a blood test and medical exam to determine whether or not the patient is anemic and what the causes might be.

Treatment for anemia can vary, depending on the cause. Increasing iron intake is usually an important part of getting the patient stabilized, so that the medical professional can address the underlying cause. People who are anemic may be asked to refrain from donating blood and to reschedule surgeries, if possible, until their hematocrit levels rise. These precautions are intended to help the patient avoid complications that can be caused by dangerously low iron levels in the blood.

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anon943999
Post 14

I'm 12 and I'm anemic, but I didn't have a sudden weight loss like others. If anything, I added on weight. I started craving food like mad. My doctor put me on these little brown tablets that tasted disgusting! I didn't take them properly the first three times that my doctor prescribed them to me (each packet lasted three months) and a few weeks ago I fainted after p.e. because I had no energy and always felt tired.

pvraju
Post 13

My wife, age 45 years, has been having low hemoglobin counts since last November. Last year she had an injection of jectacose, and this year on the blood test shows hemoglobin 7.6 and as per her doctor's advice, she had another jectacose injection and was advised to eat food high in iron. She does not like the taste of the iron tablets and syrup she does not like the taste.

The gynecological test and ultrasound test showed everything is normal. Her menstrual flow is heavier nowadays, sometimes with thick blood clots and abdominal pain. For pain she is taking Drotin M tab.

Can someone please advise what is the reason for her low hemoglobin? Because of it, she feels dizziness and weakness. What is a further course of treatment and which specialist we should consult?

Tomislav
Post 12

I had anemia when I was around eleven years old, although I do not remember many symptoms. I think my doctor caught my anemia at the very beginning stages, so that is probably why I did not have many, if any, symptoms.

I was actually going to the doctor for a yearly physical when she weighed me and was concerned because I was like fifteen pounds underweight. So my doctor immediately checked my iron levels and we found out that I had an iron deficiency, also known as anemia.

I can understand why I was anemic, because when I was eleven I used to eat very poorly. I used to only eat one meal a day, and I

always made sure whatever meal I had had no fat and little calories in it. If I wanted a snack, I would just eat non-fat candy. I later found out that I was anorexic, which of course can lead to other problems, like having low amounts of iron in my blood.

Now, almost twenty years later, I have high iron counts. This is probably because I eat healthy now and I eat a lot more than I used to.

PinkLady4
Post 11

I remember back to the days when lead in paint had not been banned. Even after it was banned, there were many houses and apartments that still had old paint that had lead in it.

Children would get sick from chewing on loose paint shreds. I imagine that a lot of those kids must have gotten anemia from lead poisoning and had some serious symptoms. It's really a shame that government agencies don't discover what damage can be done to a human being by what is put into home products, before the product is marketed. A lot of unnecessary suffering and death could be avoided.

BabaB
Post 10

My mother got a diagnosis of anemia after feeling tired, weak, dizzy and short of breath for quite a while. She thought she was tired just because she was taking care of three little children.

She had the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. She thought she was eating well, but who knows. Anyway the doctor told her to eat a big juicy steak about three times a week. When her iron still stayed low after several weeks, she was given B12 injections, which eventually took care of it.

She never had another episode of anemia from then on.

lighth0se33
Post 9

I remember being anemic as a young child. My parents were puzzled, because I used to have so much energy, but I had become sluggish and pale.

They told me that I looked really sick. I just remember wanting to sleep a lot. I didn't have the strength to run around at recess with my friends, and even my teacher noticed a change in me.

After I acted this way for two weeks, they took me to my pediatrician. He gave me a liquid iron supplement. It was brown and tasted absolutely horrible.

The taste was so bad that it nearly made me throw up. I could not stand to take it, so my mom started giving me a chewable multivitamin and feeding me spinach, lentils, and cantaloupe. I slowly regained my vitality.

Oceana
Post 8

@StarJo – It's amazing how far a healthy diet can go. I think that natural foods have so many health benefits that we haven't even discovered them all yet. That's why it's best to eat organic foods instead of taking supplements.

I was anemic, and I thought I had to take vitamin B12 shots. My cousin told me that if I ate enough beef, green leafy vegetables, and melons, I wouldn't need the shots.

I altered my diet, and before long, I felt great. I stopped taking the shots because they were unnecessary. I don't really like having unnatural substances injected into my body, anyway, and I think I'm better off without them.

Mykol
Post 7

My mom has struggled with rheumatoid arthritis for many years. Unfortunately this auto immune disease can affect many other parts of your body as well.

In addition to her arthritis, she was experiencing shortness of breath, heart palpitations and she just looked peaked and tired all the time.

When they had her tested, her doctor told her she was suffering from symptoms of severe anemia. He said this is not uncommon in someone who also has a chronic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.

She was able to begin treatment to help with some of the symptoms, but this was very frustrating since she was already going through the arthritis symptoms too.

It is amazing what a simple blood test can show though, and getting treatment can make a big difference in how well you feel.

LisaLou
Post 6

I was having physical symptoms of anemia for quite awhile before I saw my doctor. I just thought I was getting the flu or some kind of virus, and thought it would eventually go away.

What bothered me the most of feeling dizzy and light headed. When I finally had some blood work done, they told me I was anemic.

Once I started taking a supplement that had extra iron in it, I began to feel better. I have always had heavy periods, and think that was the cause of my anemia.

I will probably continue taking this supplement until I go through menopause and then I probably won't need to have the extra iron anymore.

StarJo
Post 5

Wow, after reading this, I think I must have been anemic several years ago. My skin was always cold, even in summer. I stayed tired all the time, and my blood pressure dipped low, which drained my energy further.

I would suddenly become nauseated for no reason. Nothing seemed to help it go away. I felt dizzy and on the verge of passing out most of the time.

I didn't know what was wrong with me, but I decided to start eating nothing but healthy foods, and my symptoms eventually disappeared. I guess I got the iron that I needed, and it solved the problem.

kylee07drg
Post 4

My mother became anemic after a death in the family. She just couldn't bring herself to eat much for several months, and she became very weak and pale. We knew it was because of her poor diet, but we didn't know exactly what was going on.

She stayed dizzy most of the time, and she just seemed out of it. She even fainted a couple of times. She also complained of a headache. She walked around in a fog, and headache made her even more removed from her surroundings.

We finally got her to see a doctor, and he determined that she was anemic. He told her that she absolutely had to start eating better, or no amount of supplements would help her. He also suggested grief counseling.

cupcake15
Post 3

@Oasis11-I wonder if vegetarians are more susceptible to anemia than people that eat meat regularly. There are a lot of critical vitamins in meat and I am not sure you can easily duplicate the iron and other important nutrients in a vegetarian diet.

Also, I read that people that have gone through gastric by- pass surgery have difficulty absorbing the right amount of nutrients and are very susceptible to symptoms of pernicious anemia and other vitamin deficiency conditions.

They usually have to take a lot more vitamins than the average person and have to be closely monitored so that they don’t suffer from malnutrition.

oasis11
Post 2

@Suntan12- The other day I was reading an article about different anemia causes, and I was surprised to see that having an underactive thyroid was a risk factor in developing this condition.

It makes sense because if you have an underactive thyroid your body is burning calories at a much slower rate which is why your metabolism is sluggish.

My sister had a hypothyroid and I bet she was also anemic because one of the symptoms of this condition is also a lack of energy and general fatigue.

The doctor gave my sister medication to elevate her hormonal levels and also made sure she got vitamin B12 shots to give her more energy.

suntan12
Post 1

I had symptoms of mild anemia when I was pregnant and my doctor said that it was very common among pregnant women. On top of the prenatal vitamin that I was taking I also had to take an additional iron supplement.

It did make me feel a little better, and I was not so tired all of the time. It was really hard for me to know that something was wrong with me because I thought that feeling tired was normal during pregnancy.

Feeling tired all of the time is probably the biggest symptom of iron deficiency anemia. My doctor also told me that if the inside of your lower eye lids are not pink or reddish and appear very faint and almost white then you might have anemia.

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