What is Anemia and why should you care?

by Kimberly Flanagan

Anemia is a condition where your blood lacks enough hemoglobin or red blood cells and this causes a lack of iron in the body. The result or consequence of this is that not enough oxygen is carried to the rest of the body and vital organs so it doesn’t function properly.

Symptoms that you might experience are the following:
• General and constant fatigue
• Weakness
• Lightheadedness
• Pale skin
• Brittle nails
• Headaches
• Dizziness

I was experiencing most of the above symptoms and dragged myself to the GP for a check-up and I was diagnosed with Anemia. Before I knew I had Anemia, I was always tired, really sleepy to a point where I couldn’t keep my eyes open and I would drink ample amounts of coffee because I figured I was just tired because of work and sleeping late and waking up early. I also had random blue bruises on my legs and thighs that came out of nowhere that is also an obvious symptom of Anemia according to my GP.

My body doesn’t produce enough iron, so my organs don’t function properly which means that I don’t function properly. The last time I visited my doctor she explained it in the following way which made me understand it better;

It’s like when you think of stores, grocery stores that wait for the stock to come in. Once the stock comes in, it gets sold so quick that you don’t have enough time to stock up quick enough to sell more stock. So you have empty shelves where your stock is meant to be and you have to wait for the next shipment of stock to come in. Essentially, you run out of stock too fast to keep up with the demands. It works the same with Anemia. My body runs out of iron too fast to produce enough red blood cells and stock up my organs, hence I’ll experience the above symptoms.

Now, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, its best to go get checked out, just to eliminate the possibility of you having Anemia. The condition can really affect your quality of life in a negative way and in extreme cases, Anemia can be fatal. Testing for Anemia is done through a simple blood test.

If you are diagnosed, you will be put on an iron supplement, like me, that you will probably be on for life. I am currently on something called Ferrimed and it was prescribed by a doctor but there are other medications for the condition that you can get over the counter but its best to first go see your doctor and not diagnose yourself as your symptoms can be caused by something else.

Something else that I was asked to do was eat food that is high in iron so that my iron levels remain stable. These foods include red meat, chicken, eggs, dark green leafy foods, pork and beans, and lentils. Also fish, cereals like wheat, bran or oats, fresh fruit, and dark chocolate.

Living with an iron deficiency is no fun at all; if I don’t take my meds, I suffer from headaches and fatigue and that really affects the way I live my life. As a parent of two young children, I need all the energy I can get so lifestyle changes have to be made.

5 Interesting facts about Anemia:
1) There are almost 400 causes of Anemia including blood cancer.
2) Anemia can cause strange cravings such as the craving to chew on ice.
3) Pregnant women are more likely to have Anemia or risk becoming Anemic.
4) There are at least 6 different types of Anemia.
5) Anemia affects almost 20 percent of women of child-bearing age

Unfortunately, Anemia is a lifelong condition that you will have to learn to live with, just as I will have to so if you suspect that you do have the condition, go see your GP and make sure. It can only be to your benefit.

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