Anemia affects over 2 billion people worldwide. That’s more than 30% of the Earth’s population, so it’s not an uncommon issue.
Anemia puts additional strain on an already weakened or sick body. If you think you have anemia, see a doctor quickly. Signs include fatigue, heart palpitations, pale skin, and more. This is especially true if you have an underlying disease like diabetes.
Dr. Walid Elkhalili at Apex Medical Professionals in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, is a trusted and compassionate physician. Dr. Elkhalili and our talented team diagnose and treat anemia with customized care, depending on the specific variation of anemia that disrupts your health.
What is anemia?
The main characteristic of anemia is a reduced hemoglobin (the red pigment) concentration in the blood.
Your hemoglobin is located in red blood cells (erythrocytes). This iron-containing protein is responsible for transporting oxygen in your blood. On the way back, it takes carbon dioxide, which is a waste product in the cell metabolism, into your lungs. Then you exhale carbon dioxide.
Depending on the anemia, either the red blood cells’ hemoglobin content is reduced, or there aren’t enough red blood cells in your blood. This means your body isn’t getting adequate oxygen.
What causes anemia?
Anemia can have very different causes. The most common causes include iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, or folic acid deficiency. Chronic blood loss can also cause anemia.
Certain genetic defects can lead to life-threatening complications, even in small children. In other cases, you may have anemia because of a poor or unbalanced diet.
Anemia is often a secondary finding of chronic diseases. In addition, anemia can occur more frequently in old age due to slower regeneration processes.
Those most likely to develop anemia include:
- Children ages 1-2
- People older than 65
- People on blood thinners
Signs that you might have anemia
When you’re anemic and your blood's capacity to carry oxygen is reduced, your body’s oxygen supply is in danger. Tiredness, decreased performance, or accelerated heartbeat during light exertion can be signs of anemia.
Some additional signs you might have anemia include:
- Pale skin
- Brittle nails
- Cold hands and feet
- Soreness or swelling of your mouth and tongue
- Shortness of breath
- Dry hair and skin
- Heart palpitations
- Restless legs
Prevent anemia yourself
Eating a balanced diet can help you prevent certain forms of anemia. Here’s what your body needs:
Get enough folic acid with your food. You can find lots of folic acid in beans, asparagus, spinach, lettuce, white cabbage, and liver. Folic acid is essential during pregnancy, which is why expectant mothers are encouraged to take folic acid supplements.
Foods with vitamin B12 should also be in your diet regularly. These include fish, meat, eggs, and dairy products.
A sufficient iron supply is vital for women because of menstruation. Women dealing with heavy, long-lasting menstrual bleeding often develop iron deficiency anemia. But athletes are also prone to iron deficiency because they excrete iron with their sweat.
Iron-rich foods like liver, red meat, parsley, whole grains, legumes, sesame seeds, and nuts can help meet your iron needs.
To support the absorption of iron in your intestines, combine foods containing iron with sources of vitamin C. For example, add a dash of lemon juice to your salad dressing or drink a glass of orange juice with breakfast. This will help you prevent anemia and iron deficiency.
Take charge of your health
Do you think you have anemia? Dr. Elkhalili can diagnose and treat any underlying conditions that may be causing your symptoms. Call us now for an appointment or request an appointment using our convenient online scheduling tool.