Often, a parent or caregiver may say, “you look pale”.
Anaemia occurs when your blood does not have enough protein or red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. Common causes include bleeding, inability to make red blood cells or consuming a diet that does not have enough of the nutrients needed by your body to make red blood cells.
Anaemia can be life-threatening, do not ignore the symptoms.
You may not notice the symptoms of anaemia in the beginning. However, they may get worse as your condition gets worse. They are:
- Feeling faint or getting tired easily.
- Blood vessels visible in the palms and the eyes may not appear as red as usual but pale.
- You may run out of breath when walking or doing a task.
- You may have a headache or feel pain in your chest and bones.
- Your hands and feet may feel cold to touch.
If you have one or more of the following, your chances of getting anaemia are higher. Including:
- If you mainly eat foods that do not contain enough protein and iron, such as meat, fish, eggs, beans, milk and green vegetables (e.g. spinach).
- If your menstrual blood flow soaks through regular pads in less than 2 hours and does not stop or you pass a blood clot as large as a one-naira coin (very heavy flow).
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women and growing children who do not get enough iron and nutrients from food, because they have higher needs.
- If you are are unable to take in iron or other important nutrients from food.
- If you have sickle cell disease, an inherited disease that causes abnormal shaped red blood cells.
- If you suffer from long-term diseases such as kidney disease, liver disease, cancer or long-term infections.
Mild anaemia does not usually present symptoms. As soon as symptoms appear, see your healthcare provider. Prompt action will prevent complications like heart disease, premature birth and death.
Anaemia is a curable condition.
- Self-care tips
- Eat foods rich in iron and vitamins such as spinach, meat, milk and eggs.
- Eat oranges, pawpaw, guava, lemons and other fruits that contain vitamin C which helps your body take in iron.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women and children may require more nutrients than they can get from food, so vitamin or iron supplements may help.
- If you are a sickle cell patient you can prevent a crisis by keeping warm in cold environments and by drinking enough water.
- Treatment options
- Medicines, tablets or injections, may be prescribed to treat your anaemia.
- Your doctor may also recommend an injection that stimulates the production of red blood cells.
- If your anaemia is severe, your healthcare provider can inject blood or red blood cells from a donor into you to treat anaemia.
Anaemia may affect normal development and growth. It is important to identify patterns of diet or illnesses that may cause it. Eating a varied diet and ensuring you or your loved ones get enough nutrients for their growth stage is important.
If you experience any of the symptoms, do not ignore them- especially if you have a long-term disease that may cause anaemia. The more you prevent anaemia by following your healthcare provider’s advice, the lower your risk of developing complications.
- Self-care tips