Anemia hurts your body's ability to manufacture healthy cells ...
... possibly compromising your immune system.
Here's how it happens: Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that allows the cells to carry oxygen. Anemia occurs when your blood is not transporting enough oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body due to insufficient hemoglobin. Not enough hemoglobin means not enough oxygen distribution. Because iron is needed to make hemoglobin, the most common cause of anemia is insufficient iron.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, conditions that often lead to, or increase the risk of, anemia include:
Often, anemia causes symptoms of feeling tired, cold, dizzy and irritable. Some people also experience headaches and shortness of breath.
If your body is lacking iron, you might be dealing with more than fatigue. A lack of iron hurts your body's ability to manufacture healthy cells, skin, hair and nails. Iron deficiency weakens your immune system and can cause serious complications in pregnancy.
Anemia increases your risk of serious health issues. It can cause an irregular heart rhythm and ultimately damage your heart or other organs. It can weaken your body's ability to fight other conditions, such as cancer, kidney disease and AIDS.
"The good news is that for many people, a simple dietary iron deficiency can often be fixed by including more iron-rich foods in your diet or taking a supplement if needed," said Jerry Simmons, a family practice physician assistant with Monroe Clinic-Albany and Monroe Clinic-Blanchardville. "However, you have to be careful with iron, because you don't want too much, either. This is especially true for kids, because too much iron can be toxic to their developing systems."
If you have concerns of fatigue, iron deficiency, or any of the underlying conditions, symptoms or risks associated with anemia, make an appointment to discuss them with your primary care provider.
Always consult your provider when making big changes to your diet or taking supplements, as it may interact with other medications and treatments or affect other conditions.