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Understanding Anemia -- Symptoms

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What Are the Symptoms of Anemia?

The symptoms of anemia vary according to the type of anemia, the underlying cause, the severity and any underlying health problems, such as hemorrhaging, ulcers, menstrual problems, or cancer. Specific symptoms of those problems may be noticed first.

The body also has a remarkable ability to compensate for early anemia. If your anemia is mild or has developed over a long period of time, you may not notice any symptoms.

Understanding Anemia

Find out more about anemia:

Basics

Symptoms

Diagnosis and Treatment

Symptoms common to many types of anemia include the following:

  • Easy fatigue and loss of energy
  • Unusually rapid heart beat, particularly with exercise
  • Shortness of breath and headache, particularly with exercise
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Leg cramps
  • Insomnia

Other symptoms are associated with specific forms of anemia.

Anemia Caused by Iron Deficiency

People with an iron deficiency may experience these symptoms:

  • A hunger for strange substances such as paper, ice, or dirt (a condition called pica)
  • Upward curvature of the nails, referred to as koilonychias
  • Soreness of the mouth with cracks at the corners

 

Anemia Caused by Vitamin B12 Deficiency

People whose anemia is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin B12 may have these symptoms:

  • A tingling, "pins and needles" sensation in the hands or feet
  • Lost sense of touch
  • A wobbly gait and difficulty walking
  • Clumsiness and stiffness of the arms and legs
  • Dementia
  • Hallucinations, paranoia, and schizophrenia

 

Anemia Caused by Chronic Lead Poisoning

Chronic lead poisoning may lead to these symptoms:

  • A blue-black line on the gums referred to as a lead line
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting

 

Anemia Caused by Chronic Red Blood Cell Destruction

Anemia caused by chronic red blood cell destruction may include these symptoms:

  • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
  • Brown or red urine
  • Leg ulcers
  • Failure to thrive in infancy
  • Symptoms of gallstones

 

Sickle Cell Anemia

Symptoms of sickle cell anemia may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Susceptibility to infection
  • Delayed growth and development in children
  • Episodes of severe pain, especially in the joints, abdomen, and limbs

 

Anemia Caused by Sudden Red Blood Cell Destruction

Symptoms of anemia caused by sudden red blood cell destruction may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Brown or red urine
  • Jaundice (yellow skin)
  • Small bruises under the skin
  • Seizures
  • Symptoms of kidney failure

 

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