If you suspect that you might be anemic, you might wonder what symptoms and signs to look for. Because anemia involves your blood, it can affect many different aspects of your health.

Causes of anemia

Among its other functions, your blood carries oxygen to all parts of your body and your brain. The red blood cells are the transport vehicles for oxygen in your bloodstream. And within those red blood cells, a substance called hemoglobin makes that possible. If your red blood cells are damaged or if you don’t have enough of them, or if the hemoglobin in your red blood cells is low, you are at risk of not get enough oxygen. As a result you can develop symptoms of anemia.

There are many different causes of anemia, but they can be grouped into three basic categories:

  • Blood loss
  • Low or faulty manufacture of red blood cells
  • Damage and destruction of red blood cells

Signs and symptoms

If you have very mild anemia you may not notice any symptoms, or attribute your symptoms to something else. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may be anemic:

  1. Unusual fatigue and lack of energy

You may experience unusual fatigue, even while maintaining your daily routine.  That’s because anemia affected the amount of oxygen flowing through your body to vital organs.

2. Dizziness and Headaches

Feeling lightheaded or dizzy? When your brain is receiving less oxygen, you can become light-headed or dizzy. Headache is also a very common symptom and there are many causes other than anemia, but it does occur with anemia and something you should take note of.

3. Rapid heartbeat or pulse

You may notice this during exercise at first. When your body senses that you’re not receiving the supply of oxygen it needs, it tells your heart to speed up and send more blood. Over time, this could damage your heart.

4. Being short of breath or not getting enough air

Once again, you may notice shortness of breath during physical activity. And again, this makes sense. Because your blood supply and oxygen is low, you have less fuel to carry on your physical activity. This could result in difficulty not only working out, but eventually, while you perform everyday activities.

5. Spoon shaped or upward curving fingernails

If you notice that your fingernails are changing shape, this rare but relevant symptom indicates a more severe lack of iron.

6. Leg cramping or restless legs

Lack of adequate blood flow to the legs can cause painful cramping. It may also lead to a problem called restless leg syndrome. This uncomfortable sensation that your legs are uncomfortable and need movement is still being researched, but it is believed that it is can be associated with anemia.

7. Trouble falling or staying asleep

This common symptom is sometimes due to insufficient supply of oxygen.

8. Skin that is paler than usual

When hemoglobin levels drop, the reddish color it supplies also drops. You skin looks less reddish or paler than usual.

9. Dry, damaged or thinning hair

Hair that is starved of needed oxygen can lose its strength and vitality.

10. Unusual cravings

Some people have a habit of chewing ice. This may indicate anemia.  But there is also an unusual condition called pica where cravings include dirt and paper.  These cravings are often due to a lack of iron and are quite common in pregnant women.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, or to get answers to your questions about anemia or other health issues, US Digestive Health can help. Call us today at (717) 245-2228 or schedule an appointment online.