Symptoms of Severe Anemia

Stephanie Stiavetti
A simple blood test can tell you if you are anemic.

Knowing the symptoms of severe anemia can help you discover health problems before they become even more serious.

Symptoms of Severe Anemia

Anemia is a condition that develops when you do not have enough red blood cells in your system, or if the red blood cells you do have are deficient in hemoglobin. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to your organs, and hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen within the cells, transporting it throughout your body. If you are anemic, your organs are not getting enough oxygen.

Symptoms of mild anemia can include:

  • Paleness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive tiredness

Symptoms of severe anemia can include:

  • Depression
  • Dizziness and feeling faint
  • Excessive sweating
  • Leg cramps
  • Chest pain
  • Faint or rapid pulse
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Cuts and scratches not healing within a reasonable amount of time
  • Inability to perform even basic tasks without feeling exhausted

While some folks may experience no symptoms at all, others may only notice them while they are exercising. In severe cases, an anemic person may feel weak and listless even while resting.

About Anemia

Before you begin to worry, there are many things you should understand about anemia. Below is a brief primer on this common condition.

What Causes Anemia?

Many things can cause a person to become anemic, but there are three core problems that can cause the condition:

  • Excessive blood loss, such as:
    • Post-surgery recovery
    • Heavy menstrual cycles
    • Abnormalities in the digestive or urinary tracks
  • Your body is not producing enough red blood cells, or those produced are unhealthy. Common causes are:
    • Hormonal issues
    • Chronic disease
    • Bone marrow problems
    • You are deficient in nutrients vital to red blood cell production, such as iron, folate, and/or vitamin B12
  • Something is excessively destroying your body's red blood cells, such as:
    • Bone marrow conditions
    • Liver disease
    • Spleen defects

Anemia Facts

Anemia is fairly common these days. Everyday conditions can cause a person to become anemic, such as poor diet or heavy menstrual bleeding. Anemia can also be caused by more severe health problems, which may need medical attention to prevent the condition from getting worse.

How Is it Treated?

Mild cases of anemia are usually treated with iron supplements, while severe cases may require an emergency blood transfusion. What works for one person may not work for another, and improper treatment can actually mask the symptoms of more serious health conditions. As well, treating your anemic symptoms without treating the root of the problem will not accomplish very much. This is why it is very important that you discuss proper treatments with your doctor.

How Can You Prevent Anemia?

There are many things you can do to prevent becoming anemic, but it is important to note that some medical conditions will cause your oxygen and iron levels to decrease, regardless of if you take preventive measures. It is very important that you seek medical attention if you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of severe anemia!

If you are suffering mild anemia, you may want to discuss the following preventions with your doctor:

  • Taking an iron supplement, which is the most common treatment for mild anemia
  • Taking a multivitamin high in folate and vitamin B12
  • Eating iron-rich foods, such as:
    • Broccoli
    • Egg yolk
    • Beans
    • Dark leafy greens such as chard, spinach, and kale
    • Meats such as beef, pork, liver, mussels
  • Taking a vitamin C supplement when eating iron-rich foods, which encourages its absorption
  • Eat less of foods that inhibit the absorption of iron, such as:
  • Coffee, tea, red wine, and other foods high in tannic acid
  • Dairy
  • Soy

Further Anemia Resources

If you'd like to learn more about anemia, check out these valuable links:

Symptoms of Severe Anemia