How Do I Know if I’m Anaemic?
Iron deficiency anaemia is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world, affecting around 500 million people worldwide.
Without sufficient iron levels, your body makes fewer red blood cells, which means your tissues and organs can’t get the oxygen they need.
Have you ever wondered, how do I know if I’m anaemic? Well, we will discuss this question in this article, which we hope you can learn something from.
What is anaemia?
Iron deficiency anaemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or the haemoglobin concentration within them, is lower than normal.
Around 70% of your body’s iron is found in the red blood cells of your blood, called haemoglobin- this is a protein which transports oxygen throughout the body.
Haemoglobin is needed to carry oxygen, and if you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or not enough haemoglobin, this results in a decreased capacity of the blood to carry oxygen to the tissues in your body.
To learn more about iron deficiency, click here to read our blog articles on ‘What Happens if Iron Is Too Low?’ and ‘Can I Treat Iron Deficiency Myself?’
So, why does the body need iron?
Iron is an important mineral which is needed for energy, immune function and for maintaining healthy blood. Meanwhile, children need iron for their growth and development.
Iron is also necessary for healthy cells, skin, hair and nails.
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 experience symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath.
How do I know if I’m anaemic?
So, how do I know if I’m anaemic? Look for these common symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia:
- 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
Who is at high risk of iron deficiency anaemia?
There are a few factors that might make a person at high risk for iron deficiency anaemia, such as:
- Menstruating and heavy menstrual periods.
- Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
- Gastrointestinal diseases such as Celiac Disease and inflammatory bowel diseases.
- Peptic ulcer disease.
- Undergoing bariatric procedures (such as a gastric bypass operation).
- Being vegan or vegetarian (or not eating meat, poultry and fish).
- Blood loss due to a medical condition.
- Chronic nosebleeds.
- Frequent blood donation.
- Intravascular haemolysis, a condition in which red blood cells break down in the blood stream, releasing iron that is then lost in the urine.
- Chronic illnesses such as cancer, kidney failure, or autoimmune diseases.
- Toxins such as alcohol and drugs.
- Being unable to absorb iron from food.
- Taking certain medications.
- Due to a genetic form of anaemia (e.g. sickle cell anaemia and thalassemia).
- Being a child who drinks more than 16 to 24 ounces a day of cow’s milk, which can decrease the absorption of iron.
- Being an athlete, because regular exercise increases the body’s need for iron, and iron is lost through sweating.
Can I test myself for iron deficiency?
Here at Official Rapid Tests, we sell an Instant Iron Deficiency Test, which you can take from the comfort of your home.
This Instant self-administered Iron Deficiency Test detects Ferritin through a finger-prick method to measure levels of anaemia in the blood.
All you have to do is purchase our self-test online, and your order will be shipped to you quickly. Once you have taken the test, your result will be provided quickly.
Included in the test kit are a test cassette, buffer, alcohol pad, capillary dropper and lancet.
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.
Click here to purchase our Instant Iron Deficiency Test and get yourself tested for iron deficiency today.
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 a GP help me with anaemia?
If you suspect you may be anaemic, then you can request a blood test at your GP. The blood test will assess your full blood count.
If your red blood cell count is low, then you will be prescribed iron tablets, to replace the iron that is missing from your body.
Your doctor will advise you on how to take the iron tablets- for example, they may recommend you take the iron tablets with a glass of orange juice, to help the iron absorb better.
You may have to repeat the blood test later to see if your iron level is returning to normal.
Never take iron tablets if you have NOT been prescribed them by your doctor. Your iron levels may be perfectly normal. So, if you take iron tablets unnecessarily, then this can affect your body’s ability to absorb other minerals such as calcium, and it can also give you uncomfortable side effects like constipation, nausea and diarrhoea.
How do you fix anaemia?
Use the following methods to boost your iron levels in a safe way:
- Take iron tablets as prescribed by your doctor.
- Eat more iron-rich foods, such as leafy vegetables and lean meats.
- If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, talk to a doctor about recommended vitamins or mineral supplements.
- Drink plenty of water, to stay hydrated and replenish your body’s water supply.
- Try eating smaller meals and healthy snacks spread throughout the day, to keep your energy levels up.
- Get a good night’s sleep every night, to manage any fatigue.
- Cook food in cast-iron cookware, as this can transfer some of the iron into your food.
- Cut out caffeinated drinks, which can interfere with how well your body absorbs iron.
What foods are high in iron?
Here is a list of foods that are rich in iron, which we recommend you incorporate in your diet as much as possible:
- Green vegetables such as spinach, kale, watercress, broccoli, cabbage, edamame, and Brussels sprouts
- Beetroot, tomatoes, and mushrooms
- Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, Lima beans, and tofu
- Rice, quinoa
- Red meat, chicken, beef, turkey, liver
- Seafood such as trout, haddock, tuna, mackerel, oysters, mussels, clams and scallops
- Fruit such as figs, prunes, raisins, apricots, grapefruit, avocados, strawberries, watermelon, dates and goji berries
- Whole wheat bread, bran cereals and iron-fortified cereals
- Seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios
- Spirulina (dried seaweed)
- Peanut butter
- Unsweetened dark chocolate
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.
Click here to purchase our Instant Iron Deficiency Test, which measures your iron levels through a simple finger-prick method.
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We hope we have answered the question ‘how do I know if I’m anaemic?’
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