An estimated 3 million people in the United States suffer from some form of anemia, which means they don’t have enough red blood cells, or that their blood cells can’t produce enough hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein that carries oxygen to your organs, and without it, your heart has to work overtime. Anemia can be caused by certain medical conditions and blood diseases, even chronic issues with heavy menstruation, but most of the time it’s caused by a deficiency of iron or vitamin B12. The good news is, it’s easily treatable, and there are plenty of steps you can take to prevent anemia from developing or getting worse.
1. Eating the Right Foods
Because the vast majority of anemia cases are a result of low iron, eating foods high in iron can help prevent it. Iron is found in seafood and red meat, as well as green vegetables, raisins, and beans. But just as important as the iron itself is making sure your body can absorb it. Any foods that are rich in vitamin C like fruits and vegetables help you absorb iron, and certain things like caffeinated drinks can actually make it harder.
2. Taking Supplements
You have to be careful when you begin an iron regimen because too much can be a bad thing. Children and people over 50 don’t need as much iron, and it’s important to talk to a doctor before you risk taking more than the recommended dose. However, certain groups of people like pregnant women and vegetarians often don’t get enough iron, and they can benefit from taking supplements to keep themselves from becoming anemic. Everyone can benefit from more vitamin C and B12, too.
3. Knowing the Symptoms
The symptoms of anemia can be very vague and easily attributed to other things, but if there is something abnormal going on with your body, it’s important that you know anemia could be a possible cause. The most common sign to look for is extreme feelings of tiredness and weakness. This is more than just being sleepy – it’s a chronic fatigue that can interrupt your workday and make it hard for you to function. Other symptoms include feeling very cold or even numb, as well as shortness of breath and chest pains. The symptoms of anemia can be similar to symptoms of heart disease because your heart is compensating for the deficiency in your blood.
4. Regular Testing
To check your hemoglobin levels, you must have a CBC blood test, which stands for Complete Blood Count. It measures your amount of red blood cells and your hemoglobin levels, as well as white blood cells and platelets, to warn you of other diseases. If you are at high risk for anemia because of abnormally heavy menstruation, pregnancy, vegetarianism, or certain conditions like kidney disease, you should be undergoing a CBC test often. Everyone else should try and get one every few years.
Anemia is a common condition that develops over time which is easily treated and managed. But if you have anemia and don’t know it, you can wind up doing severe damage to your internal organs, especially your heart, with potentially fatal results. If you keep track of your diet on a regular basis, you will probably see that having healthy blood is key to having a healthy life.
John Martin writes articles for health sites and recommends having blood work in Phoenix done at one of the health test centers.