A short climb up the stairs leaves you breathless, and rest for even a couple of days doesn’t perk you up. If this describes how you feel, check with your doctor – it’s important to take action as these might be the symptoms of anaemia.
If you’re diagnosed with anaemia, it usually means that your red blood cell [RBC] count is abnormally low, so it can’t carry enough oxygen to all parts of your body. It also may mean that there is a reduction in the haemoglobin content of your RBCs. Anaemia is a condition – not a disease – but it can be a symptom of a more serious illness.
Usually, anaemia is due to iron deficiency, but also can be caused by not having enough vitamins like B12; B6; folic acid; and/or copper in your system.
Anaemia has the following symptoms:
- Weakness, dizziness and quick exhaustion
- Shortness of breath and palpitation on exertion
- Pale skin
- Failing memory
- A tired look, lined with premature wrinkles
- Occasional disturbing headache
- Slow healing wounds
- Lack of shine in eyes, mirroring fatigue.
The main causes of anaemia are:
- Loss of blood from the body i.e. haemorrhage by injury, bleeding piles, bleeding nose, mouth, lungs, anus, genital tracts or excessive menstruation in case of women
- Inadequate supply of blood-forming ingredients in the diet
- Destruction of red blood corpuscles inside the body after they are formed
- Deficiency in the production of blood because of defective functioning of liver and/or bone marrow
- Lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, needed for digestion of iron and proteins
- Presence of hookworms, pinworms, round worms and tapeworms that feed on the supply of blood as well as on vitamins in our body
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding
- Excessive alcohol or drug use.
Anaemia can be difficult to diagnose because the fatigue associated with it is easily mistaken for a number of other conditions. If your doctor has diagnosed you with anaemia, try these home remedies that can help on your road to recovery.
The main dietary requirement for those with anaemia is to pack meals with as much iron as possible, as it is a vital nutrient in reproducing RBCs.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin C at the same time that you eat whole grains, spinach, and legumes. This will increase absorption of the iron in these foods.
- Make sure you are eating plenty of iron rich food, such as green leafy vegetable, beetroot, dried fruits, bran flake, oysters, brown rice, lentils and molasses, raisins, and prunes.
- Drink coffee or tea between meals rather than with meals as caffeine reduces iron absorption.
- Include sesame seeds, almonds, soy beans, animal fat, dairy products, radish, carrots, tomatoes, blackberries, bananas, and apples in your diet.
- Soak 10 black currants overnight. Remove seeds and have for 3-4 weeks, first thing in the morning.
- Try to cook in iron pots; it is proven that doing it can significantly increases the amount of iron in your foods.
- Honey helps to increase the haemoglobin in the blood as it is rich in iron, copper and manganese.
- Manganese is essential for people with iron deficiency. It aids in protein and fat metabolism, healthy nerves, immune system and blood sugar regulation.
- Daily intake of 3-4 pieces of dry figs help in curing anaemia.
- Deep breathing and light exercise like walking also tones up the system, increases the blood level and helps in anaemia cure.
- Enjoy sun-bathing as sunlight stimulates the production of RBCs.
- Daily consumption of amla also helps to increase haemoglobin levels as amla enhances production of blood cells.
These home remedies might aid you avoid the complications of anaemia. It is advisable to check your haemoglobin level. Consult your doctor who might also prescribe an iron supplement if the levels are too low. These will also facilitate in a speedy recovery.
Pregnancy and Anaemia
Your iron requirements go up significantly when you’re pregnant. Iron is essential for making haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to other cells. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body expands until you have almost 50 per cent more than usual. And you need more iron to make more haemoglobin for all that additional blood. You also need extra iron for your growing baby and placenta.
Your risk is even higher if you have morning sickness severe enough to cause frequent vomiting, if you’ve had two or more pregnancies close together, if you’re pregnant with more than one baby, if you have an iron-poor diet, or if your pre-pregnancy menstrual flow was heavy.
If you remain anaemic during the first two trimesters, you’re at a higher risk of having a preterm delivery or a low-birth weight baby, so it is something to take seriously. And if you’re severely deficient, it could affect your baby’s iron stores at birth, increasing his risk for anaemia later in infancy.
By far the best “cure” for anaemia is prevention. Eat a healthy and balanced diet, and make sure you get plenty of iron-rich foods such as meat, sardines, dried fruit, and spinach.
You may also wish to take an iron supplement – usually it is included in pre-natal vitamins. This is also how iron deficiency is treated – doctors will prescribe a higher dosage of iron tablet until the condition clears. Don’t be tempted to self-diagnose: anaemia is occasionally caused by factors other than iron deficiency, and it is safest to get the all-clear from your doctor.