Anaemia – It’s Causes, Symptoms and the Treatments Available

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Anaemia can leave you tired and fatigued. Read our short guide to find out more about the symptoms of anaemia and how they can be treated.

Anaemia is an iron deficiency. It means you don’t have enough haemoglobin or red cells to carry oxygen to your tissues and organs. The condition can be caused by a lack of vitamin B12 or vitamin B9 which is folic acid (folate).

The most common reasons for anaemia are if you have a health condition such as Crohn’s or Coeliac disease. These conditions affect the absorption of nutrients.

Another reason could be due to pregnancy because you aren’t getting enough folate from your diet.

You can also become anaemic if you lack vitamin B12 in your diet. Vitamin B12 comes from leafy green vegetables and meat. Vegans are at risk of anaemia because they don’t eat foods with vitamin B12.

What are other causes of anaemia?

Other causes are that your body breaks down red blood cells too quickly. A secondary health condition can be a cause. Or because you are taking medicines like steroidal anti-inflammatories or penicillin. Anaemia can also come from loss of blood from an injury, heavy periods, having a baby, a stomach ulcer, or piles.

Less common causes of anaemia are from problems with your immune system, a genetic disorder, kidney disease or chemotherapy for cancer treatment.

What are the symptoms of anaemia?

The main symptom of anaemia is tiredness. You may feel fatigued even though you have had a good night’s sleep. Other symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling faint
  • Looking pale
  • Lack of energy
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath when exercising
  • Sore tongue
  • Very dark poo

Seeing your doctor

If you have any of the above symptoms, then visit your doctor for a diagnosis. Your doctor will likely ask you about your diet and medication. You’ll then have a blood test. The blood test will give the doctor information about your blood cells and your folate and B12 levels.

How to treat anaemia

The treatment for anaemia will depend on the cause. For example, if it is because of certain medicines, you are taking your doctor may recommend alternatives. It could be because of your diet. If so you might be prescribed supplements. You could also increase your intake of green vegetables and red meat.

Your doctor might also prescribe iron tablets. If necessary and you may also be offered injections of vitamin B12. If you take iron tablets, be aware that they have side effects such as diarrhoea, sickness, or constipation.

Changing your diet

If you do find that you have low levels of ferritin, then as well as taking an iron supplement you should also introduce some of the following foods into your diet:

 Iron

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Red meat
  • Dried fruits
  • Bread fortified with iron

 Folate

  • Brown rice
  • Spinach and broccoli
  • Poultry and pork
  • Shellfish
  • Oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Cereals

 Vitamin B12

  • Beef and lamb
  • Milk and yoghurts
  • Eggs
  • Cod and Salmon
  • Cereal products including bread

How the Pharmacy can help

If you have any side effects from anaemia medication, talk to your pharmacy about changing the type of tablet you are taking. Here at VSM Pharmacy, we recommend Health and Iron Formula Plus. These tablets also contain extra vitamins including vitamin C and B12. They are easy to swallow and gentle on the stomach.

You might want to see if you have an iron deficiency quickly. If you do, you can buy an iron deficiency self-test from us here at VSM Pharmacy. All you do is prick your finger and transfer your blood with around 6 drops of buffer solution to a test cassette.

After around 10 minutes you’ll get the results which will tell you if you have low levels of ferritin, which is a blood protein that contains iron. If you have less than 20 ng/ml of ferritin, then you may be suffering from anaemia.

To find out more more about the best treatments to take for iron deficiency talk to the staff here at VSM Pharmacy and they can give you the help and advice, you need to treat the condition.

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