5 Unexpected Signs You’re Anemic

Wednesday, September 03, 2014 Stef dela Cruz, MD 0 Comments

Unless you're a doctor or a healthcare professional, you might find yourself surprised about these five signs of iron-deficiency anemia. If anything, you might have already experienced all five and assumed you were just having a bad day!

Shu UemuraTip: I’ll be leaving crumbs to lead you to a Shu Uemura giveaway here somewhere. Make sure your eyes are peeled for ‘em!

If you're female, chances are the phenomena described below are due to anemia. Find out how you can make your day better simply by getting enough iron in your diet!

5 Signs of Iron-Deficiency Anemia You Might Not Expect

You probably picture an anemic person as someone pale, ghastly, malnourished, and pretty much sickly. That may be true for those with serious iron deficiency, but many more may look normal... that is, until you take a closer look.

That's what Dr Zaida Gamilla made us realize during the Sangobion Makeover Event held at Crowne Plaza last August 16, 2014. What's more, if we are iron-deficient, it's probably our own doing!

Celebrating and loving life during the Sangobion Makeover Party

"Although 40 percent of iron-deficient anemia is due to malnutrition in developing countries, some are due to lifestyle choices in developed countries," Dr Gamilla said. "Some go on slimming diets while others become vegans. If this is what we are trying to follow, we end up with iron-deficiency anemia."

Dr Zaida Gamilla"Vegans are especially prone to iron deficiency," said obstetrician-gynecologist Dr Zaida Gamilla. Got the chance to have a picture taken with her – I hope neither of us look anemic!

Here are five signs and symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia you wouldn't expect to see on an anemia-awareness flyer. Which ones are you experiencing right now?

1. You want to bang your head against the wall.

Okay, that's an exaggeration, but having frequent headaches may be attributable to anemia.

Here's something many medical students study in physiology: carbon dioxide causes blood vessels to dilate. When that happens to blood vessels inside your skull, pressure build up (the skull doesn't exactly expand, after all).

The result: You get a throbbing headache.

Caveat: It's still best to consult a doctor if you're having repeated bouts of headaches. Whether it's due to a simple case of iron deficiency or a more complicated neurologic condition, your doctor can diagnose it better than Google!

2. You prefer wearing darker lipstick.

I love making my lipstick look pale - it makes my kohl-fringed eyes look bigger! But if you feel like you look awesomely bland and blah without bright red or dark-colored lip color, maybe it's because you really don't have enough hemoglobin in your blood!

In the morning, take a long, good look in the mirror. Do you look like an extra hired to appear in The Walking Dead? If that's the case, repeat after me: Iron, baby, iron.

3. You pant like a dog.

dogMy dog isn’t panting coz he’s not anemic. You?

Feeling out of breath after just one flight of stairs? Maybe you haven't exactly been exercising. Or maybe your blood just can't give you the oxygen your body needs.

Shortness of breath is one of the manifestations of anemia. When your blood can't deliver, your lungs compensate.

Since iron is necessary to build efficient red blood cells, having iron deficiency means having really lazy RBCs that can't carry oxygen to the different nooks and crannies of your body. One way to solve that temporarily is for the lungs to keep breathing in more air.

That's why you pant like a dog if you're anemic! Better get to the doctor and eat iron-rich food before you start saying, "Woof, woof!"

4. You suck at work.

Has your boss ever told you you sucked at your job? Well, we all have bad days. But what if you're not doing well on the job simply because you're anemic?

Wouldn't that really suck?

Put an end to your boss's complaints about your sucky work by making sure you have enough iron in your  diet. If that's not feasible for you (although it really should), discuss with your doctor how you can supplement your diet with an iron tablet.

Sangobion ferrous gluconateIf you're into organic food, you might warm up to organic iron, too! That's what's found in Sangobion - it contains ferrous gluconate, a.k.a. "organic iron".

5. You're always "low-batt".

cellphonesNo, I'm not referring to your phone.

Feeling like you're always running low on energy while everyone else behaves like a bunny from an Energizer commercial? Yeah, it might be because of anemia.

Female? Oh, noez.

The odds are against you if you're female because you literally bleed every single month until menopause. Your iron stores need replenishing constantly!

Remember this equation:

Female = Fe (Iron) Deficiency

But even if you're male and macho, I’m sure there are things you're doing that might predispose you to iron-deficiency anemia, too.

Shu Uemura GCsShu Uemura makeup and GCs, anyone?

Skip right over to my lifestyle blog, Life and Fever, if you want to know the 6 reasons you're not loving life enough. (Yes, it tells you which habits of yours make you at risk for a zombie face and a sucky job… and it’s where I’m holding a Shu Uemura giveaway!!!)

Just in case you have other female friends who would look awesome if only they weren't zombie-pale, don't forget to share these 5 unexpected signs of anemia with them! Put your social networks to good use, girl; they shouldn't be all about your dark-lipsticked selfies!

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!