It is very important to know if you have anemia, especially during pregnancy. It is also essential for people who suffer from symptoms such as fatigue and exhaustion for no apparent reason.
Identifying anemia begins with noticing the signs and then proceeding with the complimentary methods. To determine this disorder, the problem lies not in the medical aspect itself, but in how each person’s body responds to a lack of hemoglobin.
The clinical manifestations of anemia vary from patient to patient. Many times they are non-specific and include symptoms that may be caused by other disorders as well. Either way, healthcare professionals will need to assemble the loose ends in order to request the appropriate laboratory tests.
In this article, we will take a closer look at anemia.
What is anemia?
Anemia is a lack of red blood cells and hemoglobin in the blood. Both components have normal values that we should maintain over time for the body to function properly.
Red blood cells are the blood cells that carry hemoglobin. These cells have a half-life of about three months, which means that our bodies replace them every 90 days.
Their function is fundamental in the supply of oxygen to various tissues. In order to fulfill its purpose, red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a substance rich in iron.
The microscopic shape of this protein allows it to couple with oxygen and transport it. In this way, it can distribute oxygen to various tissues and use it in its metabolism.
As you can see, the process involves both red blood cells and hemoglobin. At the same time, it also indirectly involves iron. The three factors that can lead to anemia are therefore the following:
- Bleeding, which reduces the amount of blood circulation in the body.
- Lack of iron in the diet or the reduced ability of the intestines to absorb iron in the diet.
- Chronic disorders that alter the formation of red blood cells and their performance.
How to tell if you have anemia: Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of anemia are varied and nonspecific, which means that it is difficult to know if you have anemia. However, being aware of the symptoms can help one to know when to go to a doctor.
Fatigue, exhaustion and lack of strength are all common traits. As less oxygen circulates through the body, cells reduce their metabolic activity and burn out faster. It is therefore more difficult to exercise, run and even walk. Daily activities such as going up the stairs can be a challenge.
In case of anemia, the airways try to compensate for the lack of oxygen by taking it from the outside. You may therefore feel short of breath and increase your breathing.
It is unlikely that you will be able to tell if you have anemia by looking at the color of your skin. However, as we said, this factor can be a guide. Lack of red blood cells leads to general pallor due to loss of redness.
Other symptoms that may indicate anemia include the following:
- Palpitations and tachycardia.
- Dizziness and fainting.
- The feeling that one’s feet are cold.
How to tell if you have anemia: Blood tests
If your doctor suspects anemia, he or she will ask for a number of biochemical parameters, of which hemoglobin will be the most important. Through laboratory tests, one can find out the concentration of protein in one’s blood.
For a healthy adult, hemoglobin in the blood should be between 13 and 18 grams per deciliter in men. In women, it should be between 12 and 15. This margin is wider when it comes to children.
If a woman’s hemoglobin levels are less than 12 grams per deciliter, or a man’s levels are less than 13, then they have anemia. The doctor will need to determine the origin of this anemia and the condition of red blood cells in order to characterize the disease. To do this, doctors will perform a blood test.
How do you know if you have anemia?
The only way to really know if you have anemia is to measure hemoglobin in your blood through laboratory tests. Several symptoms may indicate anemia, but the diagnosis is based on more than just the symptoms.
If you suspect that you have anemia because you are tired and pale, experience headaches and cold in your extremities, then you should go to the doctor. When explaining his symptoms, the doctor will ask for the necessary tests.
The treatment of anemia in all its forms is possible either with iron supplements or by eliminating the cause of bleeding. Therefore, if anemia is suspected, do not delay seeking medical treatment.