If you have anemia, your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells (RBCs) to carry oxygen to your tissues. Anemia has many types and can be caused by different factors. If you constantly find yourself asking “Am I anemic?” consult your doctor to make sure you have no signs of a serious illness. But, first of all let's learn how to identify "I'm anemic or not?" There are 3 simple steps you can follow.
Symptoms of anemia vary depending on type, cause and severity. Other underlying health problems can also influence the symptoms that persist. Additionally, anemia that is mild or develops slowly over a long period of time may not be easily noticeable because of the body’s ability to compensate for early anemia. The most common symptoms of any kind of anemia include:
Important Notes: If you notice that you exhibit any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately to prevent further complications:
If you are considering having a pregnancy, your doctor may ask you to take folate and other supplements before conception.
If you have an iron deficiency, you may experience a strange, unexplainable hunger for substances such as paper, dirt or ice. The corners of your lips may be cracked, and your nails may curve upward.
If your anemia is caused by a Vitamin B12 deficiency, you may feel tingles in your hands and feet, lose your sense of touch and find difficulty moving your limbs. In extreme cases, you may experience hallucinations, dementia, paranoia and schizophrenia.
If you are a victim of chronic lead poisoning, you will observe a blue-black lead line along your gums. You may also experience abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and constipation.
If chronic red blood cell destruction is what causes your anemia, you may undergo jaundice, urine discoloration, gallstones and leg ulcers.
Sudden red blood cell destruction anemia also causes jaundice and urine discoloration and leads to small bruises, abdominal pain, seizures, and symptoms of kidney failure.
You may experience fatigue and pain in your joints, limbs, and abdomen if you have sickle cell anemia. You may also be more prone to infections. Children with this condition also experience delayed growth and development.
Your doctor will perform a physical exam to check for symptoms of anemia. He will also ask about your family medical history and order some blood tests to confirm his diagnosis as well as pinpoint your underlying conditions. These blood tests may assess any of the following:
In very rare cases, your doctor may need to take a sample of your bone marrow to pinpoint the cause of your anemia.
The cause, type and severity of your anemia determine the kind of treatment your doctor will prescribe. These may range anywhere from dietary changes to medications, even to surgical procedures.
Low levels of iron and other vitamins are most likely due to your poor diet or a preexisting medical condition. Your doctor may ask you to make changes in your eating habits and take more supplementary vitamins such as folic acid and vitamins C and B12.
Medicines that can treat your anemia include hormones for heavy menstruation and RBC production stimulation, antibiotics for infections, chelation therapy for lead poisoning, and medicine for your immune system.
Severe anemia may prompt your doctor to perform a blood transfusion or blood and bone marrow stem cell transplant.
Surgery can stop potentially fatal bleeding, such as from stomach ulcer or colon cancer. You may also need to have your spleen removed if it starts destroying RBC’s too rapidly.