You feel you are hale and hearty. But can’t find the reason for being tired all the time; climbing a staircase makes you pant heavily and your breath goes erratic even on jogging for a few meters. If you have all these symptoms, there are high chances of you suffering from iron deficiency- anaemia.
Anaemia is a medical condition when the RBCs (Red Blood Cells) don’t have the required proportion of Haemoglobin. Haemoglobin, commonly talked about in its abbreviated form Hb, is a component of RBCs, whose primary function is to carry oxygen from lungs to other cells of the body.
Having known the function of haemoglobin, it is evident that its deficiency leads to lack of oxygen which is vital for the smooth functioning of body. Many cells will not receive oxygen due to lack of carriers, i.e. haemoglobin; thus impairing the functioning of body and brain.
Anaemia is caused when RBCs don’t get enough iron for the production of haemoglobin.
It is to be noted that anaemia is more common amongst females of reproductive age group (15-45 years) because of regular blood loss during menstruation. It can become more severe during pregnancy because of large amounts of oxygen required for the continually growing foetus.
The condition is also common in premature babies and vegetarians.
CAUSES OF ANAEMIA
- Blood loss due to injury, surgery, peptic ulcer, cancer, menstruation or childbirth, frequent blood donations
- Haemorrhage: Internal bleeding due to rupture of blood vessels
- Poor Diet: Lack of Iron, Vitamin B12 or Folic Acid in diet
- Mal-absorption: When the body does not absorb enough iron
- Hormonal Disorders: PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) and Hypothyroidism
- Congenital Disorders: Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Anaemia cause severe anaemia.
- Chronic Diseases like tuberculosis, kidney disease, arthritis or diabetes
- Auto-immune Disorders like haemolytic; when the body destroys red blood cells at an unusually rapid rate.
- Chemotherapy which destroys red blood cells while destroying cancerous cells.
- Medications and Drugs: Certain antibiotics, anticoagulants and anti-inflammatory medications or excessive consumption of alcohol
- Growing Age: when the energy requirements are high.
SYMPTOMS OF ANAEMIA
- Feeling exhausted
- Palpitations: Erratic and fast heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling Dizzy
- Paleness of Skin and Eyes
- Unexplained Headaches
- Cold hands and feet
- State of confusion
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Numbness in arms, legs or any other part of body
- Too little or too heavy periods
If you have one or more of the above symptoms, don’t overlook. Consult a physician who will recommend a blood test by which it could be confirmed if you are suffering from anaemia.
Once diagnosed, the physician will try to find the underlying cause of anaemia to take a suitable course of treatment. He may simply advise some dietary changes or prescribe iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12 supplements depending on the severity of the situation.
If the physician feels that the amount of haemoglobin is too low to be recovered in time by dietary changes and supplements, blood transfusion may also be recommended.
There are some things that you can do on your own to prevent and cure anaemia. First and foremost is dietary changes. Below is the list of iron rich foods:
- Red Meat
- Particular parts of meat like kidney, liver or heart
- Dark and Leafy vegetables like spinach, parsley, broccoli etc.
- Black Grams
- Black Beans/ Kidney Beans
- Whole Pulses
- Citrus Fruits: Foods rich in Vitamin C like oranges, pomegranate, gooseberries, sweet lime etc. lead to high absorption of iron by body.
However, there are certain foods that one should avoid as they hinder the absorption of iron:
- Dairy and dairy products
It is advised to have a balanced diet rich in all nutrients at all times to prevent any kind of deficiency in the body. Why wait for the onset of anaemia to make dietary changes; a healthy and nutrient rich diet should be a lifestyle.
After all, “An Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure”.