Symptoms of Anemia and How to Detect Them

Symptoms of Anemia and How to Detect Them

Anemia is not just a single illness but it is a condition that has variety of causes and forms. This is a result of the deficiency in the number of functioning red blood cells. It is the red blood cell which carries blood around the body with the help of a certain protein called hemoglobin.  Anemia could mean that either the level of hemoglobin or red blood cell is low.

When a person has anemia, the workload of the heart is increased because it has to work harder in order to produce the amount of blood needed to get the required amount of oxygen around the body. This is why when an anemic person exercises, he gets exhausted right away.

3 Common Causes of Anemia

  • Iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the body does not have enough iron mineral to produce the hemoglobin it requires to make red blood cell.

  • Megaloblastic anemia

Megaloblastic anemia is the result of deficiencies in vitamin B12, B vitamins, or both. In this condition red blood cells are much bigger and have a shorter life span.

  • Anemia of chronic disease (ACD)

Anemia of chronic disease, also known as anemia of chronic inflammation, is a common disorder that arises due to various inflammatory diseases.

Symptoms of Anemia

Symptoms of anemia depends its severity. It usually includes:

  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Breathlessness
  • Frequent headache
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Palpitation
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Irritability
  • Ringing in the ear


Physical Examination

This is the first step in diagnosing anemia. It is very important to determine if the anemia is a symptom of any complications.  During the physical examination, information like dietary intake, family history and medical information is also gathered.

CBC or “complete blood count”

CBC is a test that measures the red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells. This test also provides information about the size, shape and volume of red blood cells.

Other diagnostic tests

If internal bleeding is suspected further test will be conducted. It is usually the gastrointestinal tract that has problem whenever internal bleeding is suspected. The stool examined to check if there is presence of blood. Dark, tarry or red-streaked stool can be seen. The stool will then be tested for hidden blood.

An endoscopy could also be performed and this is helpful when the source of bleeding is unclear. In this test a fiber optic tube is utilized to visualize the gastrointestinal tract. If cancer is suspected, colonoscopy is performed.

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