Understanding Anemia -- Symptoms

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.

Symptoms common to many types of anemia include the following:

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

 

 

Anemia Caused by Chronic Lead Poisoning

Chronic lead poisoning may lead to these symptoms:

 

Anemia Caused by Chronic Red Blood Cell Destruction

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

 

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:

 

Continued

Call Your Doctor About Anemia If:

Talk to your doctor if you have risk factors for anemia or notice any signs or symptoms of anemia including:

  • Persistent fatigue, breathlessness, rapid heart rate, pale skin, or any other symptoms of anemia; seek emergency care for any trouble breathing or change in your heart beat.
  • Poor diet or inadequate dietary intake of vitamins and minerals
  • Very heavy menstrual periods
  • Symptoms of an ulcer, gastritis, hemorrhoids, bloody or tarry stools, or colorectal cancer
  • Concern about environmental exposure to lead
  • A hereditary anemia runs in your family and you would like genetic counseling before having a child

For women considering pregnancy, your doctor will likely recommend that you begin taking supplements, especially folate, even before conception. These supplements benefit both mother and baby.

 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on July 22, 2017

Sources

SOURCES: American Academy of Family Physicians. The American Medical Athletic Association. Albemarle Pulmonary Medical Associates, PA.
Gary W. Tamkin, MD, Attending Physician, Highland General Hospital - Alameda County Medical Center, Oakland. Cornell University Department of Animal Science. CDC.

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