Your blood is full of red blood cells carrying oxygen to your organs and tissues — or at least it should be. Anemia happens when you don’t have enough red blood cells because you either don’t make enough of them, your body destroys them, or you recently bled a lot.
The most common type of anemia is iron-deficiency anemia, which causes your red blood cells to stop carrying oxygen efficiently. Iron helps your body produce a substance called hemoglobin that allows your red blood cells to transport oxygen.
Anemia often starts mildly, and the symptoms can be hard to distinguish from regular fluctuations in how you feel. Here at Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division in Fishkill, Poughkeepsie, and Highland, New York, our gastroenterologists can help you find out why you’re anemic and how to solve the issue.
Here are five signs you might have anemia and should schedule a visit:
1. Weakness and fatigue
There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and your personal life is probably pretty busy, too. However, feeling fatigued all the time isn’t normal. If you’re constantly tired and experience weakness, consider exploring anemia as a possible cause.
Along with general fatigue, anemia can cause extra exhaustion after exercise. You might find that you have less stamina and can no longer work out at your body’s full capacity.
2. A rapid heart rate
You might not check your pulse every day or even every week. Yet, a racing heartbeat from anemia is distinguishable while you’re at rest. If you feel like your heart rate is faster or irregular, you can take your pulse using a timer and your hand. A faster heart rate can be due to intense exercise and other harmless causes, but you shouldn’t have a racing heart at all times.
3. Appearance changes
Others might notice some subtle changes to the way you look. One of the most prominent physical features that can come as a result of anemia is paleness. If your skin appears starkly pale or yellow, it’s possible that someone will tell you. Otherwise, you might notice it in a mirror or in photographs.
While paleness can be due to various other causes, consider visiting our team if it appears alongside other symptoms of anemia and doesn’t get better when you eat.
If you often get headaches, you’re probably well aware of your triggers and some simple ways to avoid them. If headaches are out of character for you, or if they seem to be getting worse, anemia may be a cause or contributing factor.
5. Cold hands
Have you ever been so chilly that you can’t warm up no matter how many layers you put on? If this applies to your hands, even when the rest of your body is not cold, you might have anemia.
Your hands can get cold due to anemia because the red blood cells in your system cannot sufficiently supply the whole body with oxygenated blood. Therefore, your hands are the first to feel the effects because they’re far from your heart. Your feet may be equally frigid for the same reason.
If you experience multiple signs of anemia with no other explanation, our experts at Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division can conduct blood tests to rule out other possibilities and provide diet changes or medications to treat anemia. Schedule an evaluation over the phone or online today.