If you are feeling weak or worn out seemingly for no reason, it may be a good idea to visit your doctor and have your blood checked for anaemia. This condition can cause otherwise healthy individuals to feel down in the dumps. Anemia is not contagious. Many forms of anaemia are treatable through dietary supplementation and by eating foods that contain high amounts of a deficient vitamin or mineral.
Anemia, the most common disorder pertaining to red blood cells, is experienced when the cells in the body become oxygen-deficient. This occurs when the amount of haemoglobin in the blood becomes inadequate. Essentially, the cells of the body become deprived of life-giving oxygen molecules.
Iron deficiency anaemia occurs when the body does not have an adequate supply of iron to manufacture haemoglobin, which carries oxygen to the body's cells. This is the most common form of anaemia. Folic acid deficiency anaemia occurs when the body doesn't have enough folic acid to help red blood cells mature. This is the second-most-common form of anaemia. Anemia that is caused by deficiencies such as these may be categorised as mild, as the deficiencies are easily treatable with diet and supplementation.
Warning signs of anaemia include feeling tired, faint, dizzy, out of breath or generally bad; having pale skin, gums, nail beds or eyelid linings; or having bluish lips. In women, increased bleeding during their period, or an absence of a menstrual cycle, may indicate anaemia.
In addition to these common signs, many people with anaemia experience an accelerated heartbeat, particularly when they exercise, as well as shortness of breath, headaches and difficulty concentrating. Specific to iron deficiency anaemia is a craving for substances such as dirt or paper. Having a sore mouth or cracks at the corners of the mouth are other common symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia. A person who has folic acid anaemia may experience symptoms such as the loss of the sense of touch or a "pins and needles" sensation in the hands or feet. Clumsiness or difficulty walking may be observed. More serious symptoms include dementia, hallucinations, paranoia and schizophrenia.
Those most at risk for developing anaemia include pregnant or breastfeeding women, older women, infants, toddlers and adolescents. Only 2 per cent of males, compared with 9 per cent of females, are diagnosed with anaemia. Individuals who consume large amounts of alcohol are more susceptible to developing folic acid deficiency anaemia, due to the fact that alcohol interferes with the metabolic processing of folic acid.
A doctor can check iron and folic acid levels in your blood to determine whether you have anaemia. Upon diagnosis, he may instruct you to follow a specific course of nutrition and supplementation. Foods that provide necessary levels of iron to combat iron deficiency anaemia include liver, lean red meat, poultry, fish, wheat germ and green leafy vegetables. Foods that provide high levels of folic acid include fresh and uncooked fruits and vegetables, whole grains, spinach, broccoli and orange juice. Drinking orange juice is also a good way to get vitamin C, which the body needs to help with iron absorption. Your doctor may also recommend limiting tea consumption and avoiding antacids, as both have been shown to interfere with this process.