Discovering the warning signs of anaemia

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Feeling tired and out of breath, a racing pulse, palpitations, pallor … Though not that significant in themselves, these symptoms can be a warning sign.

Rather than simply being a matter of overdoing things, they could be the symptoms of anaemia due to iron deficiency … Particularly when other more specific signs are present too, such as a tendency to infection, cracks appearing at the corners of the lips, broken nails and hair, etc.

We need to learn to recognise these warning signs. Particularly as we are not all the same when it comes to iron-deficient anaemia. Some of us are more at risk than others, particularly pregnant and breastfeeding women, and women of reproductive age.

If you have these symptoms, and even if you don’t but you belong to one of these at-risk groups, you should consider the possibility of anaemia and visit your doctor. He or she will be aware of this and will run some tests.

These are quite straightforward. You will be asked to give a blood sample so that your hematocrit level can be determined – this is the proportion of blood volume occupied by red blood cells – and the concentration of haemoglobin in your blood.

If you are anaemic you will be treated with iron salt tablets. Or if you form part of an at-risk group – being pregnant for example – you will be prescribed iron tablets. This is to prevent simple iron deficiency which affects between 60% and 80% of pregnant women.

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