Anemia: Do Not Miss the First Signals

Anemia occurs when red blood cells decrease, which prevents the full supply of oxygen from reaching all organs and tissues of the body. At first, this leads to general malaise, but it can cause more serious problems. Anemia can be treated — it is important to take action and not miss the onset of the disease.

Dr. Helga

General practitioner

What should be alarming?

The appearance of at least two symptoms from this list should lead you to take the necessary tests:

  • Muscle weakness. This symptom is often attributed to fatigue, but if it occurs without objective reasons such as serious load or severe stress, then it may indicate anemia.
  • Hair loss and brittle nails.
  • Pale skin, often with a grayish tinge.
  • Disorder of taste sensations: food seems almost tasteless or bitter-spicy.
  • Desire to eat inedible things.
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle.

Where does anemia come from?

First and foremost, the cause of anemia is related to nutrition. Iron deficiency in food is most common, which shows up as a type of anemia called an iron deficiency. Iron absorption occurs in the stomach and upper small intestine. If these organs are hit, anemia may occur even with good nutrition, since iron that gets into the body with food does not get absorbed.

Frequent bleeding from the nose, gastrointestinal bleeding, and overly heavy menstruation can also cause anemia.

What are the types of anemia?

Aplastic anemia: this is a blood disease caused by a violation of the hematopoietic function of the bone marrow—specifically, a sharp decrease in its ability to produce blood cells. B12 deficiency anemia: this occurs when there is a lack of vitamin B12 in the body, which is necessary for the growth and maturation of red blood cells in the bone marrow as well as for the proper functioning of the nervous system. It most often occurs in people who have refused animal food for various reasons. Hemolytic anemia: this usually develops in pregnant women. The mother's body produces antibodies, directing them against the child's erythrocytes when the child and mother are incompatible with the Rh antigen.

How do you check your iron levels?

To diagnose anemia and identify its cause, it is necessary to pass a series of tests. A routine blood test is not enough! First of all, you need to check:

Your doctor may order other tests based on the history and symptoms, which will help determine the type of anemia, the degree of the problem, and the right treatment.

What should you do if you are anemic?

First of all, it is recommended to eat meat, fish, dairy products, and organic pomegranate juice every day. Green vegetables are also recommended as they contain folic acid, which helps absorb iron.

It is undesirable to consume iron-containing foods together with calcium-containing foods. Iron and calcium block each other's absorption. Vegans need to take iron and vitamin B12 supplements since plant foods do not have enough of either.

Tea, coffee, and alcoholic beverages should be excluded from the diet, as they lead to a drop in iron level in the blood.

Under no circumstances should you independently seek out iron-containing drugs for yourself, be it a medicine or a dietary supplement. Only a doctor can select them, taking into account the individual characteristics of your situation. For each patient, the daily need for iron is specifically calculated, along with the duration of the treatment, the absorption of a particular prescribed drug, and the iron content.

11 May 2021

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