How Can I Tell if I’m Anaemic?
Iron is one of the most important minerals that living organisms need for good health.
If you have clicked on this article, then you are likely wondering, how can I tell if I'm anaemic?
We will outline everything you need to know about checking for anaemia in this article, which we hope you find informative.
What is anaemia?
Iron deficiency, or anaemia, is a condition caused by a lack of iron in the body. It means that the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells, which provide oxygen to body tissues.
You may not realise you are deficient in iron, because sometimes the symptoms are not so obvious.
Iron is an important mineral which is needed for energy, immune function and for maintaining healthy blood. Children need iron to meet their nutritional needs, as it is vital for their growth and development.
We need iron because it plays a pivotal role in transporting oxygen throughout the body. Iron binds to a protein called haemoglobin, which is responsible for carrying oxygen to the tissues from the lungs.
If you don’t have enough iron, your body can’t make enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells. So, your body will struggle to cope without these stores of iron. Your lungs and heart will have to work harder to supply oxygen that the body needs, so you will feel more fatigued and short of breath.
How can I tell if I'm anaemic?
So, how can I tell if I'm anaemic? Here are the symptoms to look out for:
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Feeling weak
- Low energy or lethargy
- Pale skin
- Frequent headaches
- Dry or damaged hair
- Hair loss
- If you are constantly feeling cold
- Cold hands
- Dry or damaged skin
- Brittle fingernails, which chip and crack easily
- More frequent infections
- Trouble concentrating
- Lack of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Sore muscles
- Cracks at the corner of the mouth
- Soreness in the tongue
- Unusual cravings
- Restless legs
- Bruising easily
- Developmental delays and behavioural problems in children
What are the causes of iron deficiency anaemia?
Iron deficiency can occur at almost any age. Your iron levels may become low because:
- you experience blood loss due to frequent blood donation or a health condition such as inflammatory bowel disease.
- your diet is too low in iron.
- of heavy menstrual periods or bleeding due to childbirth.
- you are pregnant or breastfeeding (as there is an increased need for iron.)
- of a stomach ulcer.
- you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- your body is unable to absorb iron properly from food.
- you have a genetic condition, or a chronic illness such as cancer or an autoimmune disease.
- you do vigorous exercise, which decreases the body’s ability to absorb iron.
Can I test myself for iron deficiency?
This is a self-administered finger-prick test, with easy-to-follow instructions and all the test kit materials provided.
Inside your test kit box, you will find:
- a test cassette
- a buffer
- an alcohol pad
- a capillary dropper
- a lancet
Simply follow the instructions provided, to take the test correctly, and the test will measure the levels of anaemia in your blood.
We will inform you via email of our full instructions on how to take your test and send the kit back to our accredited lab for analysis.
Once your results and personalised report are ready to view, you will receive a notification via email to log in to the Official Rapid Test online platform.
Using an at-home test kit is convenient if you have a busy lifestyle. It means you don’t have to wait weeks to get your iron levels checked at your GP.
You can take the test at home and find out almost instantly if you are deficient in iron- which means you can start taking the steps to boost your iron levels.
If your results are outside the normal range and are of concern, it is a priority that you contact your local GP or emergency service by calling 111 or 999.
Please note: If you feel sick, unwell or are concerned about your health, it is your responsibility to get in touch with the emergency services as soon as possible, do not wait for results to be issued.
Disclaimer: If your test range is abnormal, we will not be held responsible for follow-up treatments or notifying a healthcare professional, by taking a test with us, you agree that you will take the necessary steps to follow up with a healthcare provider independently.
Can anaemia cause weight gain?
if your iron level is low, this does not mean you will automatically put on weight.
But because anaemia causes you to feel fatigued, you may not have the energy to be active and do exercise. Hence, it is not the anaemia itself that may promote weight gain, but rather, the lack of energy and tiredness.
What should I do if I am anaemic?
To treat iron deficiency, you can take iron tablets. These can be prescribed to you by your doctor.
If you suspect you are anaemic, you can ask your GP for a blood test. They will check if your red blood cell count is normal. If the test shows that your red blood cell count is low, then your GP will prescribe you iron tablets and advise you on how to take them.
You should never take iron tablets if you have not been advised to by your doctor.
Never take more than the recommended dosage of iron tablets, as directed by your doctor or pharmacist. If you take too many iron supplements, this can damage your cells and even lead to serious symptoms such as iron poisoning. Hence, it is especially important to keep iron tablets away from children.
Improving your iron levels naturally
To improve your iron levels naturally, you should eat foods that are rich in iron, and this will help you feel more energised.
Iron-rich foods include:
- green vegetables
- red meat such as beef and lamb
- legumes such as lentils
- seafood such as salmon, haddock and oysters
- whole wheat bread & bran cereals
- figs, dates and prunes
- pumpkin seeds and flax seeds
To boost your energy levels, try eating smaller meals and healthy snacks spread throughout the day, rather than three heavy meals.
In addition, try cutting out caffeinated drinks and alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol can interfere with iron absorption and iron storage levels. So, it is far better to drink water instead, to stay hydrated and aid the transportation of nutrients and oxygen to your cells.
Did you know that cooking in a cast-iron skillet can transfer some of the iron into your food? Believe it or not, preparing food in cast-iron cookware pots can boost your iron intake.
Read more articles like this
To learn more about iron deficiency, health tests, Covid testing and travel testing, click here to read our blog articles on:
- What Happens if Iron Is Too Low?
- How Do I Know if I've Got Iron Deficiency?
- Can I Treat Iron Deficiency Myself?
- Is There a Quick Test for Iron Deficiency?
- What Age Does Bowel Cancer Start?
- What Are the Signs of Bowel Problems?
- How Do You Check Your Bowel Health?
- How Does Strep A Get in Your Blood?
- Can I Enter the UK with an Antigen Test?
- What Is an In-Clinic Antigen Test?
- Do I Need an Antigen Test to Travel?
- Welzo & NFC technology
About Official Rapid Tests
At Official Rapid Tests, we are a UK Government listed testing provider. We are a team of medical industry experts, with a combined experience of 40 years in the testing, diagnostic and medical services sector.
With our services, it couldn’t be easier for you to test yourself (or your loved ones) for Covid-19. All you have to do is buy one of our Covid tests, which can be delivered the next day. Alternatively, book a Covid test at one of our test centres, as we have over 120 clinics all over the UK.
Our Covid tests are perfect for using as proof that you have negative Covid status if you are travelling. With every negative result, you will receive a signed note from one of our doctors, declaring that you are Covid-free and fit to travel.
If you are not sure what kind of Covid Test you need, then click here to take our quiz. This will tell you which type of Covid test is suitable based on your travel requirements.
We are open 24/7, seven days a week, for test results.
We hope you now have the answer to the question ‘how can I tell if I’m anaemic?’
Read more articles on travelling and Covid tests on our blog here.