About three million of us suffer needlessly from a condition that seriously and negatively impacts our quality of life. But it doesn’t need to be that way.
The condition is called anemia. It is when your body lacks enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to your tissues. Anemia can sound frightening because it involves your blood. Yet the treatment can be as easy as changing what’s on your plate for dinner. And finding out if you are anemic can be done quickly and easily with a simple test from Any Lab Test Now! The answer to the test can help you and your doctor put you back on the path to feeling better.
The symptoms can often be so mild that they go unnoticed or seem like they are just “part of life.” Do any of these things sound familiar? Fatigue, weakness, pale or yellow skin, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness, chest pain, cold hands and feet, headache, irritability — these symptoms of anemia are often dismissed or ignored. Often, the fatigue becomes overwhelming. Dr. Allen Nissenson, nephrologist and professor of medicine at UCLA, says it doesn’t have to be the norm for the millions with anemia.
Nutrition and Anemia
In order to make enough healthy red blood cells, your body needs an adequate supply of iron, folate and vitamin B-12. Of course, not everyone consumes the right quantity of these nutrients. For this reason, the most common type of anemia is caused by poor nutrition, according to Dr. Nissenson. Our increasing obsession with diets — and the growing number of strict vegetarians and vegans — is adding to the problem. That’s why the Anemia Panel from Any Lab Test Now checks not only your blood count, but also your iron, folate and vitamin B-12 levels.
Whether the anemia is iron deficiency anemia or vitamin deficiency anemia, the treatment is likely as simple as supplements and a change in diet. The best sources of iron are meat, poultry and egg yolks. To a lesser extent, you can get iron from eating green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, dried beans and peas, and enriched whole-grain cereals and bread. You need to also eat foods rich in Vitamin C, like citrus fruits, to help your body absorb the iron. The dark green leafy veggies are also your best source of folic acid. You’ll only get vitamin B-12 by eating animal foods — especially meat, fish, eggs and milk. That’s a real challenge to those following a strict vegan diet.
Who is at Risk?
Your diet isn’t the only thing that can put you at risk of an iron deficiency. You may eat all the right foods but have an intestinal disorder — like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease — that keeps you from properly absorbing the nutrients you eat. Other causes of anemia include:
- Significant blood loss
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Possible reactions to birth control
- Kidney disease
Importance of Treatment
Anemia may not sound threatening, but there can be complications if you don’t treat it. In addition to severe fatigue, anemia can cause pregnancy complications. And if left unchecked too long, it can eventually lead to heart problems because the heart needs to pump more blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the blood. That can ultimately lead to an enlarged heart or even heart failure.
Finding out if you have an iron deficiency takes just a few days. The professionals at your local Any Lab Test Now location can help you find out if you need to take the next step with your doctor to boost your iron and change your health for the better.