Anaemia refers to a condition in which there is not enough red cells in your blood. Red blood cells play an important role in the body - they carry oxygen to the body's cells.
There are two types of anaemia - one is caused by a lack of iron, and the other by inflammation. While a lack of iron is easier to diagnose, anaemia from inflammation is more commonly missed.
And this could be fatal. If you have heart problems, anaemia makes your heart work harder, leading to a rapid or irregular heartbeat, which can result in an enlarged heart and possibly, heart failure.
Look out for these signs that your body is deficient in red blood cells...
Pale and tired
When your body's cells aren't getting enough oxygen-rich blood, they struggle to keep up with what they have to do. They're just not getting the basic requirements they need to produce enough intracellular energy to keep going. Essentially, they're being suffocated. This is what makes you look pale and feel tired all the time.
Headaches, light-headedness or dizziness
When you're anaemic, the electrical signals between your brain and your heart don't fire-off as they should - causing you to feel dizzy or light-headed.
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Cold hands and feet
Anaemia results in a decrease in blood flow and it also affects your thyroid which regulates your metabolism.
Inflamed or sore tongue, and reduced taste
Does your food taste bland all the time? Is your tongue swollen or sore? Anaemia disrupts your taste buds' sensitivity. And, muscles, like your tongue, don't get the support they need to function as well as they used to without a constant flow of oxygen-rich blood cells.
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Brittle nails and dry hair
Not getting enough oxygen to your cells is a serious condition - so your body will do everything it can to direct its resources to life-saving organs - which means your skin, hair and nails get neglected from a nutrition point of view.
Some people crave things like ice, starch or soil. Your body is trying to tell you it's lacking in one or more minerals and vitamins - listen to it by getting checked out by your doctor.
It goes without say that your immune system
will be affected when you're anaemic, so you will notice you'll be getting the flu more often than you used to, as well as other infections like urinary tract infections.
Where could this anaemia be coming from?
Often, we don't realise that we could be anaemic until it's severe enough to cause other and more serious health problems.
The most common causes of anaemia include:
* Malabsorption of nutrients due to acid-suppressing drugs
* Malabsorption of nutrients due to low stomach acid - common in older people
* Bleeding - from ulcers or intestinal lesions - common in people who take pain
killers like aspirin regularly
* Insufficient foods in the diet that contain iron - especially red meat, eggs and leafy-green vegetables.
* Pregnancy or women who experience heavy menstrual cycles.
* Frequent blood donors.
Listen to your body if you experience the symptoms above and go for a checkup.