Anemia is a condition characterised by a lack of red blood cells or a lack of functioning red blood cells. Red blood cells carry hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that attaches to oxygen in the lungs and carries it to tissues throughout the body. Therefore, with a lack of red blood cells there’s a resulting lack of oxygen being carried throughout a person’s body.
The condition is the most common blood disorder, affecting more than 3 million Americans a year.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the signs of anemia.
While signs and symptoms are often used interchangeably, medically, they’re different. Symptoms can only be felt and described by the affected individual, whereas signs have to be seen or read by an additional, unaffected person rather than felt.
Paleness is a sign of anemia.
The cause of pale skin is due to a lack of red blood cells and a lack of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. The blood and blood cells that are circulating are diverted to the organs rather than the skin, and according to Everyday Health, “as the numbers of red blood cells become restricted, not enough reach the surface of the skin.”
Anemia can cause dry skin and dry hair.
Most oxygen is transported through the body via being bound to the protein hemoglobin, yet when hemoglobin is deficient, oxygen isn’t transported as it normally is or needs to be throughout the body.
The limited oxygen goes to the organs and tissues performing essential functions rather than going to our skin and hair. When the skin and hair are deprived of oxygen, they become dry and weak, and hair may even fall out in more severe instances.
A swollen, pale tongue could be a sign of anemia.
A change in colour or texture of the tongue, as well as swelling of the tongue, are signs of anemia. Anemia tongue is also referred to as glossitis, which is inflammation of the tongue.
Iron helps the body to make red blood cells, and when we’re deficient in red blood cells, the tissue of the tongue doesn’t receive enough oxygen, causing some of the above negative effects of the tongue.
Anxiety can be a sign of anemia.
For optimal function of the nerves and brain, iron is needed. Without enough iron, the body experiences problems with neurotransmitter signalling, brain energy metabolism, and the formation of nerve insulation.
According to Psychology Today, “Slowed central neuron processing is considered to be the critical problem of iron deficiency in the brain, which can be a primary cause of all sorts of psychiatric symptoms.” They go on to list that these psychiatric symptoms may present as anxiety, depression, poor concentration, or irritability.
Cold hands and feet can be a sign of anemia.
If you’re anemic, your hands and feet may not be receiving enough oxygen or blood due to an inadequate amount of healthy red blood cells in the body and/or poor circulation. This leads to discomfort and coldness in the hands and feet, which are the bodily structures further away from our heart, making them the farthest reaches to nourish and to keep temperature up.
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