There are definitely visible signs and symptoms that you could have anemia, but they can be subtle. The most common form of the disease is iron-deficient anemia, with a quarter of a million ER visits each year.
Iron is absolutely essential to the body and if you don’t have it, you can’t make enough red blood cells, which are what delivers oxygen to the rest of the body from the lungs.
Some of the symptoms of anemia from an iron deficiency may take time to be felt, so you should be aware of what the symptoms are beforehand so that you can look for warning signs.
Here are fourteen signs that you might be anemic and should see a doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing three or more of these symptoms.
- Pale areas of the skin: If you notice that your palms, your fingernails and parts of your face, particularly the mucous membranes of the eyes, you might not be getting enough red blood cells to those areas.
- Tiredness: If you are feeling tired all the time, you definitely should consider anemia. Fatigue is the symptom that usually appears before anything else and it is a deep and abiding fatigue, rather than the energy reduction you feel mid-afternoon.
- You have a strange desire to chew ice: No one knows why, but there has been research that might show that chewing ice gives a mental boost for those with iron deficient anemia.
- Anxiety: You are anxious with a rapid heartbeat or a heart rate that has recently gotten more intense.
- Pregnancy: Iron deficient anemia is actually fairly common during pregnancy so if you are pregnant and having some of these symptoms you should see your doctor.
- RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome): This is a relatively recent discovery and of the people that suffer from RLS, around 15 percent have an iron deficiency.
- Numbing or tingling: You’ll notice numbing in the extremities and tingling in hands, arms, legs and feet or you might feel chilled.
- Migraines & tension headaches: If you don’t usually suffer from migraines or you do and they suddenly intensify, you should see your doctor.
- Hair loss: Some symptoms of anemia might take a while to see, and hair loss is one of those. Hair that is thinning can be a sign of iron deficient anemia.
- Stools are dark, or have blood in them: You should see your doctor right away for rectal bleeding, dark or bloody stools or abdominal pain.
- Difficult breathing: If you have trouble with stairs, exercising or exerting yourself, it could be a warning sign.
- Irregular heartbeat: If you are having heart palpitations or hear a windy sound in your ears when you are lying on your back, get help immediately.
- Heavier periods: For women, a heavier period is a sign of iron-deficient anemia, as well as painful or irregular bleeding.
- Foggy feeling; if you feel as if you are in a fog and cannot think clearly, this is something you can add to your list of warning signs.