Need help with anemia

measuredoak

Cathlete
Need some advice, help dealing w/anemia. I am 49 closing in on 50 fast. I've been working out w/Cathe for past year. I try to eat clean and for the most part i'm successful but somehow I can't get my iron level up. Went to the doc 6 mos ago when feeling super fatigued. Iron level was 8.2. I take a women's multi vitamin; try to eat foods w/high iron content, limit caffeine intake; but recently when i tried to give blood my iron level was only at 8.4. Don't want to take additional iron pills because side effects are constipation which I already struggle with. very discouraged. Any pointers would be appreciated. Oh, my cycle is all wacky. I know that has something to do with it, but there has to be a natural way to boost my iron level. Help.:eek:
 

Sugarbean

Cathlete
Need some advice, help dealing w/anemia. I am 49 closing in on 50 fast. I've been working out w/Cathe for past year. I try to eat clean and for the most part i'm successful but somehow I can't get my iron level up. Went to the doc 6 mos ago when feeling super fatigued. Iron level was 8.2. I take a women's multi vitamin; try to eat foods w/high iron content, limit caffeine intake; but recently when i tried to give blood my iron level was only at 8.4. Don't want to take additional iron pills because side effects are constipation which I already struggle with. very discouraged. Any pointers would be appreciated. Oh, my cycle is all wacky. I know that has something to do with it, but there has to be a natural way to boost my iron level. Help.:eek:
Hello-
Do you mean your hemoglobin or blood count is 8.2? That's pretty low- normal is 12-13. I hope your doctor is scheduling a colonoscopy for you, and if you are having excessively heavy periods causing blood loss, maybe you should consider a measure to stop your periods, like OCPs. If you do not have an overt or occult blood loss, maybe you should be tested for malabsorption/pernicious anemia. You can also have anemia, although usually not this low, with kidney disease. Also, if you are African American, you might also be heterozygous (carry one but not both genes) for sickle cell disease, which can cause you to have ineffective blood cells that are filtered out by your spleen. Hopefully this has all occurred to your doctor and you are in the process of having it worked up. Being this anemic not only makes you tired but makes your heart work much harder because your red blood cells provide oxygen carrying capacity. Anemia in and of itself is a symptom of something greater and should be investigated.
Just my $.02...
 

measuredoak

Cathlete
Thanks for your reply. My ob/gyn put me on low dose birth control pill. Helped a little w/the periods but not much. They are not really heavy just irregular & occuring every 21 days from start to start. They are actually becoming more irregular. I'm actually Mexican American so that rules out the sickle cell. I do feel tired much of the time, but try to get plenty of rest & not overdo the exercise. I also try to be very aware of my diet. Eat iron-rich foods; plenty of protein; etc. I haven't followed up w/my doc lately, but maybe that should be my next step especially in light of your comment that it could be a symptom of something greater. Thanks again.
 

RapidBreath

Cathlete
maybe you have pcos

poly cystic ovarian syndrome. Its easy to be tested for it. Testosterone levels and FSH levels are what you need to know. The irregular periods are a bit troublesome.

They may not have told you this, but birth control does induce insulin resistance (which causes pcos) but is still used to treat it. You might also get a fasting glucose check to see how your pancreas is doing. :) Making sure that you don't have diabetes (skinny people get it too)

Alisha
 

den333

Member
Serum iron level is about 9-27 (depending on the labs set values), Hemoglobin is about 12-16 for women. Here are the symptoms of anemia: "easy fatigability, increased heart rate, palpitations and rapid breathing on exertion. Severe deficiency causes skin and mucosal changes, including a smooth tongue, brittle nails, and cheilosis (red lips and fissures). Difficulty swollowing because of the formation of esophageal webs (Plummer–Vinson syndrome) also occurs. Many iron-deficient patients develop pica, craving for specific foods (ice chips, etc) often not rich in iron."
If you were bleeding the hematocrit would be low and you would either have blood (bright red or dark depending on location) in your fecal matter or blood in your vomit (bright red or coffee ground appearance depending on location). It's most likely iron deficiency. Vit B12 will be differentiated from iron deficiency anemia via the normal CBC that the Dr would've ordered, which would usually show an elevated size of the red blood cell (MCV 110-140), iron deficiency is usually nl MCV. Also with Vit B12 deficiency you would have nausea, weakness, vomiting, sore tongue, diarrhea, and paresthesia = "pins and needles."
I've had the same thing where my menstrual flow was scant and dark (Too much info but...) and they found I was borderline anemic. Once I started on birth control pills it corrected the flow problem (I was only on it for a few months), I only took the iron pills for about 3 months. However, you should be on it for about 6 months. If you can't tolerate the gastrointestinal side effects and it's been over a yr (about) then ask about an injection (side effect I think is less than 1% of people- Mild hypotension, tightness of chest, wheezing; the other drug has lots of side effects) and let the Dr know that you can't tolerate the pills they will be able to provide you with an alternative.
Hope this helps.
 

Shelshula

Cathlete
Wikipedia suggests that Vitamin C might help with the absorption of iron, but it isn't sourced.

Also Folic Acid and B12 are suggested to help with some deficiencies.

Kale is rich in iron, and so is liver, and I believe egg yolks.

Regardless, the best advice is to go pester your doctor. If he can't give you an answer ask him to refer you to a specialist. Anemia is not something to ignore. It won't go away on its own like a cold.

Good luck
 

measuredoak

Cathlete
Thanks for all the suggestions. I will try the iron pills again & increase my fluid & fiber intake. Hopefully that will help w/the constipation. Not sure I want to try the injection. Maybe I just need to give the iron pills more time to work. I wasn't very diligent taking them. Not a big fan of vitamins, but I'll try again for a longer period of time & if necessary bug my doc. I've heard that vitamin C helps w/ iron absorption. I'm thinking of taking my regular women's vitamin in the a.m. & then an iron pill later in the day (or vice versa) so I'm not taking everything at once. I'll see how that works. Thanks again.
 

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