15 anemia symptoms you should never ignore

15 anemia symptoms you should never ignore

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Anemia is the most common blood disorder in the world. It affects more than 1.6 billion people. That is why knowing how to identify symptoms is essential. While anyone can develop anemia, it is most common in young children. It can also affect some animals, including cats and dogs.

There are more than 400 types of anemia. However, a patient with anemia will always have an abnormally low number of red blood cells circulating in his body. In many cases, the patient will have a condition that causes their body to break down red blood cells at an abnormally rapid rate or that affects their body's ability to make new red blood cells.


The different types of anemia are divided into three broad categories:

-Caused by blood loss

-Caused by the destruction of red blood cells.

-Caused by a defective production of red blood cells.

Blood loss can be chronic or acute. Conditions that can cause chronic blood loss include stomach ulcers and some types of cancer. Acute blood loss can arise from injury or surgery.

Red blood cells generally have a lifespan of around four months, but some conditions can destroy them before they reach that age. An example is autoimmune hemolytic anemia, in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys red blood cells.

There are also a variety of disorders that cause the body to make too few blood cells or abnormal blood cells. Examples include sickle cell anemia and leukemia.

Anemia has a multitude of symptoms. Some, like lack of energy, occur with any variation of the disease. Other symptoms of anemia are seen only in certain types of the condition. For example, a patient with hemolytic anemia may have abnormally dark urine.



Fatigue or lack of energy is the most common symptom of anemia and occurs in all types. Red blood cells do an important job in transporting oxygen throughout the body. If the red blood cells are deficient, there will also be a deficiency of oxygen in the patient's body so that he feels constantly tired. Chronic fatigue has many causes, such as stress, lack of sleep, or other illnesses. However, if none of these apply, it is probably time to call your doctor.


Shortness of breath is also one of the most common symptoms. A patient with anemia will often feel short of breath even after exertion as mild as climbing a flight of stairs. As with chronic fatigue, the patient does not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry the oxygen that his body needs. In some cases, dizziness and lightheadedness will accompany the patient's breathing difficulties.


Unusually pale skin is another symptom to look out for. The lack of blood cells and the resulting decrease in circulation will also make the gums and tongue paler than usual. The eyelids have mucous membranes covered with blood vessels. If these look unusually pale, they could also indicate anemia.


There are many things that can cause headaches, so a problem alone may not indicate anemia. On the other hand, if the patient has some of the other symptoms plus a susceptibility to headaches, they should see their doctor. In anemia, headaches indicate that the body is not getting enough oxygen or blood. This is especially true if the problems are accompanied by dizziness or feeling faint. Frequent headaches can indicate iron deficiency anemia, which is the most common type of anemia.


Jaundice is one of the symptoms of anemia that is mainly seen in certain types of anemia. In jaundice, the patient's skin and eyes take on a yellowish tint. The color is caused by a build-up of a waste material called bilirubin. Jaundice is particularly common in hemolytic anemia, which causes the body to destroy red blood faster than it can make new ones. The destruction of blood cells causes the production of an abnormally high amount of bilirubin. Jaundice can also occur in sickle cell anemia.


Hair loss can be one of the symptoms of iron deficiency. The hemoglobin in red blood cells stimulates hair growth, so a lack of hemoglobin will cause hair to fall out. It will also make the remaining hair thinner and weaker.

In 2006, the "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology" published an overview of several studies that investigated possible links between iron deficiency anemia and different types of hair loss. While the researchers noted that the studies produced mixed results, they also noted that their hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, always re-tested patients with iron deficiency hair loss.


Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is often one of the symptoms of iron deficiency. The condition is characterized by unpleasant sensations such as itching or throbbing in the legs accompanied by a compulsion to move them. Patients generally experience the feelings and seizures at night, and the intensity of the symptoms depends on the severity of the patient's anemia.

In 2016, the scientific journal "Neurology" published an overview describing the causes of restless legs syndrome, which can be primary or secondary. Primary RLS occurs by itself, while secondary RLS is symptomatic of certain conditions, such as iron deficiency anemia. The scientists reported that RLS occurs in 25 to 35 percent of patients with iron deficiency anemia.

8 sore and swollen extremities

Painful swelling of the feet and hands is one of the anemia symptoms seen in sickle cell anemia, which is the most common inherited blood disorder. The condition affects 70,000 to 100,000 people in the United States alone. It is particularly common in African Americans and affects about eight percent of them.

Sickle cell anemia is a congenital condition in which the red blood cells are sickle-shaped and rigid. Abnormal blood cells can become trapped in the vessels, and the resulting blockage causes pain and swelling in the hands and feet.


Chest pain can also be a symptom. Lack of healthy red blood cells means that the heart has to work harder to deliver nutrients throughout the body. It also doesn't get the oxygen it needs to function. Consequently, a patient with anemia will experience pain and a feeling of tightness in the chest. Anemia can also cause the heart to develop an abnormal rhythm, as it works hard to get blood circulating.


Confusion is one of the anemia symptoms seen in vitamin deficiency anemia, which is caused by a lack of vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin C, or vitamin B12. That deficiency, in turn, can be caused by a poor diet or the body's inability to absorb nutrients. Pernicious anemia, which is seen mainly in people over the age of 60, is an example of the latter problem. The patient's body cannot absorb the vitamin B12 necessary to make healthy red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is also necessary for a healthy nervous system, so pernicious anemia can cause symptoms such as an impaired ability to concentrate or remember.


When the body is low on blood, it will prioritize sending available blood to vital organs. Consequently, less blood will go to the hands, feet, legs, and arms. Numbness of the limbs is therefore one of the anemia symptoms to watch out for.


Growths called uterine fibroids can cause women to have unusually heavy periods. Such periods cause a woman to lose more blood than her body can replace. Uterine fibroids also make a woman's period last atypically, so she loses even more blood. If a woman's period lasts longer than a week, or if she needs to change towels every hour for several hours in a row, she should call her doctor.


As mentioned above, if the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells, it will send most of them to the vital organs. Relatively few will be sent to the feet or hands, and thus will feel abnormally cold, even if the patient is somewhere hot.

14. PICA

Pica is the compulsive desire to eat things that are not food, such as ice or clay. It is more common in patients with iron deficiency anemia, as a lack of iron can lead to strange cravings.


This symptom is particularly common in patients with iron deficiency anemia, as a lack of iron affects the ability of their immune system to function. In other types of anemia, a lack of red blood cells makes it difficult for the body to send oxygen to the spleen, which filters the blood that travels through the veins and thus prevents infection.

Therefore, a patient with anemia will be less able to resist infection and will remain sick longer.


Treatment for anemia will depend on the type and its cause. In some cases, therapy will be straightforward. For example, a patient with iron deficiency anemia will need to take iron supplements and possibly modify their diet. Other patients may need more complicated treatments such as transfusions. If some other condition causes symptoms of anemia, the doctor will treat that condition.