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Anemia is a condition where there is a deficiency of red blood cells that reduces the blood's efficiency in carrying oxygen to the tissues in the body 1. Anemia can be considered mild or severe as well as temporary or long-term, depending on treatment or intervention 1. Symptoms occur as anemia worsens 1.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Initially you may notice an increased heartbeat or heart palpitations, such as a sensation that your heart skips a beat. With an increase in activity or exertion, you may experience shortness of breath. More severe cases of anemia can cause discomfort or tightness in the chest as well as chest pains 1. Poor circulation is common and it usually is characterized by hands or feet that are cold to the touch. This signals an improper blood flow to the extremities of the body. It is important to identify and monitor the onset of cardiovascular symptoms to prevent maturation of these symptoms into more advanced cardiovascular conditions such as angina, heart attack or stroke.
- Initially you may notice an increased heartbeat or heart palpitations, such as a sensation that your heart skips a beat.
- With an increase in activity or exertion, you may experience shortness of breath.
How to Test at Home for Iron in the Blood
Fatigue and exhaustion are some of the most common symptoms of anemia 1. A lack of oxygen in the bloodstream and the tissues makes it difficult for the body to produce natural energy. You may also experience dizziness when standing or exerting any type of energy. Prolonged anemia can cause headaches similar to those related to dehydration 1. Some people who experience anemia report having pale skin or brittle nails, indications of lack of oxygen and iron 1. Some people experience sexual dysfunction due to the improper blood flow and lack of oxygen in the tissues. Lack of sexual desire is also common due to the associated fatigue. Increasing water intake to maintain hydration, eating iron-rich foods such as beans and taking iron supplements, as directed by your physician, can help your body to replenish its oxygen supplies.
- Fatigue and exhaustion are some of the most common symptoms of anemia 1.
- Some people experience sexual dysfunction due to the improper blood flow and lack of oxygen in the tissues.
Pica is a condition that causes an abnormal craving for non-food items. The most common occurrence of pica in anemic patients is a craving for ice cubes or ice chips. This craving is a direct indication of iron deficiency. In extreme cases, anemic patients may crave starch, paper or clay. If you begin to experience these cravings, notify your doctor immediately.
- Pica is a condition that causes an abnormal craving for non-food items.
- The most common occurrence of pica in anemic patients is a craving for ice cubes or ice chips.
Warning Signs for Anemia
Common cognitive symptoms include difficulty concentrating or communicating or feelings of sadness or depression. Notify your doctor immediately if you experience any disorientation, slurred speech or unconsciousness.
How to Test at Home for Iron in the Blood
Warning Signs for Anemia
Low Iron Level Symptoms During Pregnancy
Signs and Symptoms of Severe Iron Deficiency and Anemia
Can Anemia Cause Late & Irregular Periods?
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Anemia in Women?
Diseases Causing Extreme Fatigue & Weakness
Signs That Your Body Is Not Getting Enough Iron
Diseases With Symptoms Similar to Diabetes
Causes of Fatigue and a Racing Heart
- Mayo Clinic: Anemia
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- Robinson KJ, Sanchack KE. Palpitations. StatPearls Publishing. Updated March 26, 2019.
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- Rodriguez NM, Shackelford KS. Pernicious Anemia. StatPearls Publishing. Updated April 10, 2019.
- Pittman RN. Chapter 7, Oxygen Transport in Normal and Pathological Situations: Defects and Compensations. In: Regulation of Tissue Oxygenation. San Rafael (CA): Morgan & Claypool Life Sciences; 2011.
- Moore CA, Krishnan K. Aplastic Anemia. StatPearls Publishing. Updated May 14, 2019.
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- American Society of Hematology. Anemia and Pregnancy.
- Kumar KJ, Asha N, Murthy DS, Sujatha M, Manjunath V. Maternal anemia in various trimesters and its effect on newborn weight and maturity: an observational study. Int J Prev Med. 2013;4(2):193-9.
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- Wassef A, Nguyen QD, St-andré M. Anaemia and depletion of iron stores as risk factors for postpartum depression: a literature review. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2019;40(1):19-28. https://doi.org/10.1080/0167482X.2018.1427725
- Hurtado EK, Claussen AH, Scott KG. Early childhood anemia and mild or moderate mental retardation. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69(1):115-9. doi:10.1093/ajcn/69.1.115
- Anemia | MedlinePlus. Medlineplus.gov.
- Anemia and Pregnancy. American Society of Hematology.
- Your Guide to Anemia. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
- Iron-Deficiency Anemia | National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Nhlbi.nih.gov.
- Pernicious Anemia | National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Nhlbi.nih.gov.
- Sutherland S, OʼSullivan D, Mullins J. An Association Between Anemia and Postpartum Depression [35C]. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2018;131:39S. DOI:10.1097/01.aog.0000532975.79181.b6
Shemiah Williams has been writing for various websites since 2009 and also writes for "Parle Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in business and technology and a master's degree in clinical psychology. Williams serves as a subject matter expert in many areas of health, relationships and professional development.