If you feel very tired or extremely tired, you may have anemia. Anemia is a condition that occurs when the number of red blood cells in the body is not sufficient to support normal body functions. To determine whether the cause is the body not producing enough red blood cells, red blood cells being destroyed by the body, or some other disease, get yourself checked by a doctor. In addition to undergoing special treatment as recommended by your doctor, you may also need to take supplements, change your diet, and use medications.
Changing Diet and Using Supplements
Increase iron intake. If you take iron supplements as directed by your doctor, your iron levels should increase over time, and this can treat iron-deficiency anemia. However, the use of iron supplements has some side effects such as dark stools, abdominal pain, burning sensation in the chest, and constipation. If your anemia is mild, your doctor may only recommend that you eat iron-rich foods. The following are some good sources of iron:
Red meat (beef and liver)
Poultry (chicken and turkey)
Iron-fortified breakfast cereals and breads
Legumes (peas, lentils, kidney and white beans, and chickpeas)
Dried fruits (plums, raisins, and apricots)
Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
In addition, vitamin C can also help the body absorb iron. So, your doctor may advise you to drink a glass of orange juice or eat foods rich in vitamin C along with an iron supplement.
Use vitamin B12. If your anemia is caused by a vitamin deficiency, take a vitamin B12 supplement as directed by your doctor. Most likely, the doctor will give vitamin B12 by injection or tablet once a month. This method allows the doctor to monitor your red blood cell count as well as determine the length of treatment needed. You can also get vitamin B12 from food. Foods rich in vitamin B12 include:
Vitamin B12 fortified foods (such as soy drinks and veggie burgers)
Increase intake of folate (folic acid). Folic acid is another B vitamin needed in the formation of blood cells. Folate deficiency can cause anemia. So, your doctor will most likely recommend taking supplements to treat your condition. If your symptoms are moderate to severe, you may be given folate injections or tablets for at least 2-3 months. You can also get folate intake from food. Foods rich in folic acid include:
Bread, pasta and rice fortified with folic acid
Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
Tolo beans and dry beans
Bananas, oranges, orange juice, and some other fruits and juices.
Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol can inhibit the body’s production of blood cells, resulting in a shortage of red blood cells, and premature destruction of blood cells. Although the occasional consumption of alcoholic beverages will not cause problems in the long term, repeated or excessive consumption of these drinks can cause anemia.
If you are anemic, try to reduce your alcohol intake as it will only make your condition worse.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends drinking no more than 1 drink per day for women, and no more than 2 drinks per day for men. The level of alcohol consumption is classified as “moderate”.
Undergoing Medical Treatment
Have a blood transfusion. If you have anemia due to a chronic illness, your doctor may recommend a blood transfusion. You will get healthy blood according to your blood type through an IV. This treatment is given so that your body can immediately get a lot of red blood cells. Blood transfusions usually take between 1 to 4 hours.
Your doctor may recommend regular blood transfusions depending on the severity of your condition.
Take iron-reducing drugs. If you undergo frequent blood transfusions, the level of iron in your body will increase. High iron levels in the body can damage the liver and heart. So, you have to reduce iron levels in the body. Your doctor may give you an iron-reducing shot or prescribe medication for you.
If you get a prescription drug, the drug tablet must be dissolved in water before taking it. Usually, you have to take this medicine once a day.
Have a bone marrow transplant. The marrow in your bones contains stem cells that can develop into the blood cells your body needs. If your anemia is caused by your body’s inability to produce functional blood cells (aplastic anemia, thalassemia, or sickle cell anemia), your doctor may recommend that you undergo a bone marrow transplant. In this procedure, stem cells are introduced into the bloodstream and into the bone marrow.
Once the stem cells reach the bone marrow and are transplanted, they will begin to produce new blood cells, potentially treating anemia.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Anemia
Recognize the symptoms of mild anemia. Symptoms of anemia in some people are very mild and may not even be realized, even though these symptoms indicate anemia. If you experience only mild symptoms, make an appointment with your GP. Symptoms of mild anemia include:
Feeling tired and weak because the muscles are not getting enough oxygen.
Shortness of breath which indicates your body needs more oxygen. You may only feel these symptoms during physical activity if your anemia is mild.
Pale skin due to a lack of red blood cells which can make your skin blush.
Recognize the symptoms of severe anemia. Severe symptoms indicate that there is more than one organ of your body that is experiencing interference due to lack of oxygen in the bloodstream and trying to improve blood circulation in the body. This symptom also indicates that your brain is also affected. If you experience severe symptoms, see a doctor immediately. You may even need to visit the emergency room so you can get checked out by a doctor right away. Symptoms of severe anemia include:
Decreased cognitive ability
Fast heart rate
Visit a doctor and have a blood test. Doctors can confirm the diagnosis of anemia with a simple test called a Complete Blood Test. With this test, your red blood cell count can be determined if it is too low. Your doctor can also help determine whether your anemia is acute or chronic. Chronic means that the condition has been going on for a long time, but it doesn’t harm you in the near future. Meanwhile, acute anemia means that this problem has just occurred and must be treated immediately so that it does not get worse. Once the cause is identified, appropriate treatment can be given immediately.
Your doctor may also order you to have a body scan (such as a CT or MRI) or follow-up blood tests. If all the test results can’t pinpoint the exact cause of the anemia, you may need to have a bone marrow biopsy.