Are you always feeling cold even when the temperature soars? You could have anemia, which occurs when your blood doesn’t have enough haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, according to The College of Family Physicians of Canada. Anemia, which some people refer to as “low blood,” can starve your body of the oxygen it needs to survive. Aside from being chilly all the time, when you’re anemic, it can make you feel weak, dizzy and irritable.
Anemia causes The most common cause of anemia is not having enough iron in your blood, the mineral required to make haemoglobin. When anemia is the result of low iron levels, it’s called iron deficiency anemia. Low iron levels in the blood may be due to heavy periods or a lack of iron in the diet, commonly from following a diet or being a vegetarian. Pregnant and breastfeeding women also need more iron. Low vitamin B12 or folic acid intake, as well as some chronic illnesses, can cause anemia.
Anemia symptoms There may be none, or a person suffering from anemia may be pale and tired, experience shortness of breath during exercise and have an accelerated heartbeat.
Anemia diagnosis/tests Your doctor will review your medical history, conduct a physical exam and order blood tests, including a complete blood count (CBC) to measure the level of red blood cells and hemoglobin in your blood. Your blood cells may also be examined under a microscope to help make the diagnosis. If you have anemia, your doctor may want to do more tests to check for the root cause, such as an ulcer.
Anemia treatment It depends on the cause of the anemia. A blood test will likely be done to diagnose anemia.
• Diet changes may be an effective treatment if anemia is caused by a lack of dietary iron. Eating iron-rich foods, such as liver and meats, sardines and green leafy vegetables, may boost iron levels. Women who are pregnant may require a greater intake of iron-rich foods or a daily iron supplement.
• Supplements may be necessary in some cases. If anemia results from low B12, vitamin B12 shots may be required.
Anemia prevention During pregnancy, make sure you’re eating a healthy diet to prevent anemia: the iron requirement for pregnant women doubles from 15 to 30 milligrams a day so be sure to meet it. If you’re a vegetarian, a frequent dieter or you have heavy periods, you may need a multivitamin that contains iron or an iron supplement daily or to prevent anemia.