10 warning signs that you have anemia


10 warning signs that you have anemia

We talk about the main symptoms that will help recognize anemia in time.

reading will take 🕑 5 minutes

Dmitry Evseev
Expert: Dmitry Evseev, haematologist, a paediatrician. Dmitry Rogachev

Anaemia is a condition in which haemoglobin (a special protein responsible for delivering oxygen to the cells) in the blood becomes low. Nearly one-third of the people on the planet suffer from anaemia, and most of them are women. To list the causes of anaemia can be very long, but the most common is the lack of iron.

Iron deficiency anaemia (IDA), like anaemia in general, is more common in women. It can develop against the background of heavy menstruation, due to which the body loses iron every month, or, for example, because of active sports, when the body needs more iron than usual. In any case, the signs of IDA are the same.

1. Not enough strength for the usual things.

Constant weakness and fatigue are the first signs of anaemia. Red blood cells do not deliver the required amount of oxygen to the tissues. Because of this, muscle cells and other tissues produce insufficient energy. As a result, it is difficult for a person to cope with even small loads: there is not enough strength to bring food from the store or climb the stairs, not to mention training on a treadmill.

2. Dyspnea and frequent heartbeat

When there is little oxygen in the blood, the body tries to fill the deficit, either by pumping more blood through the vessels or trying to get more air through the lungs. Therefore, even with a small load, the pulse quickens and there is a feeling of lack of air - shortness of breath. We have to breathe more often. Such intensive work of the heart and lungs takes power and only exacerbates fatigue.

3. Pallor appears.

In red blood cells, there is less haemoglobin, which is responsible for the red colour of blood. And since it is a thin network of capillaries that gives colour to the tissues, with anaemia, the skin and mucous membranes (gums or, for example, the inner lining of the eyelids) turn pale. For the same reason, the tissue fades under the nail plate, and the fingertips begin to freeze due to the insufficient blood supply.

4. dizziness or headache

The brain is very sensitive to the level of oxygen in the blood. Oxygen starvation leads to dizziness, and sometimes to a faint state. In some cases, there is a headache: most likely due to the fact that the lack of oxygen changes the vascular tone in the brain. Presumably low levels of iron can be one of the provocateurs of a migraine  - especially if it occurs in the last days of menstruation.

5. It is difficult to concentrate

With a lack of iron in the brain, less neurotransmitters are formed (substances by which nerve cells exchange impulses), their functions are disturbed - and it becomes difficult to work with the head. In addition, irritability and apathy appear (their reasons are less clear). As a result, it’s not like concentrating on work — even watching a new series of your favourite series becomes difficult.

6. Muscle tone decreases or muscles hurt

Muscles can work actively only if they are well supplied with oxygen. When oxygen is not enough, the tone drops. In addition, during hypoxia, the muscles recover worse and after the fitness club can get sick longer than usual.

7. Skin becomes dry and peels off.

Iron is a component of many protein enzymes that regulate the functioning of cells. When it is deficient, enzyme activity decreases and tissue renewal is disturbed. First of all, the skin suffers: it becomes dry, begins to peel off and crack. Sometimes there are spots of coffee colour with milk. Cracks form in the corners of the mouth - cheilitis develops.

8. Hair and nails become dull.

Due to the fact that the renewal of tissues is disturbed, the nails begin to exfoliate and break, white specks or small transverse stripes appear on them, sometimes - dimples. Hair becomes brittle, splitting, in some cases fall out. There is always a bit of hair on the comb - this is perfectly normal, but if the hair is scrambling, it is a warning sign.  

9. Restless legs syndrome develops.

With this syndrome,  when you have rest in your legs, you experience unpleasant sensations, from tingling to severe pain, and the need to constantly move your legs to get rid of discomfort. Symptoms usually appear in the late afternoon or at night and interfere with sleep. The exact causes of the syndrome are unknown, suggesting that it is associated with dysfunction of the neurotransmitter dopamine. In turn, one of the reasons for the decrease in dopamine activity is iron deficiency.

10. Smell and taste change

They begin to like very strange smells, for example, varnish, acetone or paint, there is a desire to chew on chalk or chew paper - the manifestations may be different, but they are always very unusual. Why this happens, it is not known for sure, usually, these are signs of severe iron deficiency.

If you have a few symptoms from this list, you should consult a therapist and have blood tests are done: general and biochemical. A complete blood count can confirm anaemia (a decrease in the number of red blood cells and haemoglobin), the biochemical will show if there is an iron deficiency. According to the results of the study, the doctor will select the necessary therapy.

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