Preventing, treating anemia before it gets dangerous

Symptoms include fatigue, lightheadedness

SAN ANTONIO – Anemia is a common condition that often can be overlooked because its symptoms may be vague, but there are ways to prevent it or treat it before it gets worse.

Anemia can be dangerous if it’s left untreated. Its symptoms include fatigue, lightheadedness or even looking pale.

Yackie Rodriguez said as a busy mother, she often ignores feeling fatigued, but she became very concerned after a scare while she was driving.

“I felt really dizzy, lightheaded. I couldn’t really see the road too well,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez went to the doctor and a blood test revealed she was anemic. That means she didn’t have enough red blood cells, which are essential for carrying energy-boosting oxygen through her body.

“The most common cause of anemia is a low blood iron level due to the loss of blood studies show that as many as one in seven premenopausal women have heavy or irregular periods that can lead to anemia,” said Dr. Marvin Lipman, Consumer Reports’ medical adviser.

Another cause of iron deficiency anemia can be gastrointestinal bleeding, which can be triggered by something as simple as taking too much aspirin or ibuprofen over time.

Anemia caused by internal bleeding can also alert your doctor to check for other underlying conditions such as hemorrhoids or more serious ones, such as ulcers, polyps or even cancer. Treatment depends on how severe the iron deficiency is.

Spinach, kale, legumes, chicken and fish can boost the iron in your blood. Sometimes more iron is needed, however. Iron supplements can be helpful only if recommended by your doctor.

If the anemia is severe, a blood transfusion may be necessary.

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