Anemia is a condition where there is a reduced amount of hemoglobin in your Red Blood Cells. Hemoglobin is a protein present in the Red Blood Cell responsible for transporting oxygen to your body’s organs and tissues.
Now! In the case of Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA), low Hemoglobin levels is caused by insufficient iron in your blood system.
- The normal level for Hemoglobin in Adult females is 120-160 g/l
- The normal level for Iron storage is 9.0-30.0 Mcmol/l (Male/Female)
The reasons for low iron in the blood system of women can be due to different factors like,
- Heavy menstruation
- Not eating Iron-enriched diet
- Internal bleeding
- Low absorption of iron into your body.
I recently recovered from IDA, The illness lasted for about 8months, 4 out of the 8 months I had no idea that I was suffering from IDA. The anemia was moderately severe because my Hemoglobin level was really low, at my first blood and iron test my Hemoglobin level was 75 g/l (I was few grams away from being in the really severe stage) and my iron level was 1.5 mcmol/l. Yeah! My blood was almost out of irons and I was dying. Iron Deficiency Anemia symptoms are mostly ignored or go unnoticed by everyone because at the beginning the symptoms are mild and you wouldn’t give it much thought. Let’s touch on some symptoms of IDA that you should definitely watch out for, and my personal experiences with these symptoms.
I’m going to start from the mild signs to the major signs.
- EXTREME TIREDNESS AND WEAKNESS, In my case, I was always tired, After the slightly physical activity. I seemed to be losing energy easily and fast, no matter how much sleep I got. So if you’re not pregnant but you get tired fast and easily. It might be IDA.
- SHORTNESS OF BREATH, I couldn’t speak a lot of sentences without taking huge breathes in between as I was quite often out of breath after physical activities like talking or moving. So if you’re not pregnant, and you experience this, you probably have IDA.
- DIZZINESS, I always felt very dizzy when I stood up too fast or get up from my bed quickly, it was always like wow!wow! wow! easy there, be slower or you’ll fall. If you feel dizziness like in this situation, be suspicious!
- BRITTLE NAILS AND WEAK HAIR, I am a nail enthusiast, I love getting my nails pampered, but then I noticed that my nails were extremely weak, breaks easily and felt so soft. I had to use acrylic powders at all time to strengthen my nails. My nails was very evident but some women notice changes in their nails and hair.
- ITCHY FEET AND RESTLESS LEGS, The base of my feet were very itchy especially in the night and it was accompanied by restless legs when I’m about to sleep. My legs won’t just stay still! It was very annoying because here I am kicking my blanket, moving my legs and itching the base of my feet furiously when I’m supposed to be soundly asleep but I really didn’t think much of it. So, this is a major sign that is quite easy to be overlooked that you should look out for.
- COLD HANDS AND FEET, My hands and feet were always cold, no matter how much I rubbed them and this is due to the insufficient amount of oxygen transported to my hands and feet. Everyone that took my hands always ended up asking “why are your hands so cold?” then I would reply, “hmmm, I don’t know. Let go of my hands”😁 But seriously, look out for this symptom.
- PICA, This is the situation when you have really strong cravings for unusual “snacks” like chalk, ice, dirt, loving the smell of metal, petroleum and so many other usual things you can think of. I had my fair share of unusual cravings too. I loved to eat ice, chalk and smell the metallic/petroleum scent of the subway station. I would go to the store just to purchase chalk to snack on, It tasted horrible but I couldn’t stop myself, the smell and the crunch really pleased me! Also, In the middle of winter, I was straight up snacking on ice cubes, I know! stupid, but I couldn’t help it. Well my negligence earned me a pneumonia for about 2 months (don’t take anything cold in the winter guys!). If you have an habit of eating and smelling unusual things, go to the doctor for an iron prescription because you definitely have IDA.
- POOR APPETITE, Self explanatory, I couldn’t eat nothing, so many delicious delicacies and I only picked at it. Having a poor appetite is associated with a lot of illnesses, so if you notice this, go to your doctor for confirmation.
- PALE CONJUNCTIVA OR SKIN, Your conjunctiva should be vibrant red but if it’s a pale color, there’s definitely anemia present. And if you have a fairer skin complexion, your skin will be visibly pale. My conjunctiva was drained of all color.
- RACING HEARTBEAT AND SEVERE CHEST PAIN, Due to the low storage of iron in your blood, your body is then unable to produce enough Hemoglobin to transport oxygen to the tissue, thereby causing the heart to do twice more work of pumping blood and transporting oxygen to the tissues, Which is a lot of work for the heart! it could cause heart failure in severe cases. This extra work causes the heart to be really stressed, which then leads to a pounding heart and also chest pains.
Now, because I have left the anemia for far too long! I experienced this symptoms severely, I had severe chest pain that seemed to be getting worse day by day. At some point, I began to fear for my life because I just couldn’t take it anymore, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t walk well, I couldn’t bathe, I couldn’t bend. I couldn’t do anything comfortably. Pain killers were not working, no medication was working, I was crying everyday out of severe pain. It was horrible.
So my boyfriend and I took me to the hospital, firstly the doctor (a therapist) assumed the worse, she said I had a myocardial infarction, even though my ECG readings came out normal. Well I guess my symptoms were very misleading. But after a complete blood count, an Iron test and a consultation with a gynecologist, I was diagnosed with moderate anemia due to heavy menstruation.
I was prescribed iron supplements and my condition improved drastically after I started taking my medications. And now the anemia is completely gone (as my hemoglobin level now is 125 g/l) but I am still iron deficient, as my iron level is not up to norms yet (6.1 mcmol/l). So I still happily and religiously take my iron supplements each day till when my body get stocked up on enough iron.
So ladies, if you notice any of these symptoms especially the specific ones, don’t waste time like me, see a doctor Immediately to carry out all necessary tests.
Be strong. Stay In Good Health.
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