If you’ve been feeling weak or tired lately, even with adequate rest, there’s a chance you’re experiencing the effects of anemia. Nearly three million medical visits per year in the United States stem from this condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which doesn’t include the many cases in which assessment, diagnosis, and treatment are delayed.
The highly-trained family and internal medicine physicians at Arundel Medical Group, Inc. are dedicated to helping people get the medical care they need, including effective treatment for anemia. Read on to learn more about this condition, including common symptoms.
Your body needs sufficient amounts of healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to your organs for normal function. Anemia happens when you don’t have enough of these cells. There are many types of anemia, including:
- Aplastic anemia, which is caused by damaged bone marrow
- Diamond-blackfan anemia, a rare blood disorder that’s usually diagnosed in infancy
- Iron-deficiency anemia, which stems from blood loss or consuming too little iron
- Hemolytic anemia, which can be inherited or caused by disease or certain medications
- Pernicious anemia, which derives from low vitamin B-12 levels
- Sickle cell anemia, which is genetic and marked by poorly-shaped red blood cells
You may be particularly at-risk for anemia if you menstruate heavily, eat a strict vegetarian, vegan, or low-calorie diet, have a chronic condition such as diabetes, kidney disease, Crohn's disease, or celiac disease.
Anemia signs and symptoms
Anemia affects people differently, depending on the cause. In some cases, there are no noticeable symptoms at first, but even then, treatment is important for your overall health. Over time, symptoms can grow quite severe if they go unmanaged.
Some of the most common anemia symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Cold hands and feet
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Dry or easily bruised skin
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Shortness of breath
- Tongue soreness
- Yellowish or pale skin
Untreated anemia can lead to complications such as an enlarged heart, heart failure, infections, or depression. Children with anemia may develop pica, which prompts urges to eat non-food items, like dirt or chalk, or to chew on ice.
Iron-deficiency anemia, the most common type, is often well-managed through dietary changes or supplements. Our team may recommend eating more iron-rich foods, such as meats or beans, as well as vitamin C sources, which help your body better absorb the nutrient. More severe cases may require an intravenous infusion of iron, a transfusion of red blood cells, or surgery to stop any internal bleeding.
If you’re experiencing unexplained fatigue or other signs of anemia, call Arundel Medical Group, Inc., or request an appointment on our website.