My Lifelong Journey with Iron-Deficient Anemia

14 Mar

Anemia. About a year ago I’d finally gotten my diagnosis. This was after years of random headaches, dizzy spells, and near fainting episodes. I clearly remember one episode as a middle schooler. My mother was nearly finished fixing my hair for school when it happened. It began slowly at first … a tingling followed by a quick shortness of breath. In a matter of 5 minutes, I attempted a mad dash to leave the kitchen where mom was putting a gentle finishing touch to my hair. Reaching for the kitchen door, I couldn’t find the knob. Fumbling with my hands out in front of me, vision blurred and fuzzy like an old television after the station ends for the night. Finally, I find my way outside. Fresh air clears my vision, but I still felt faint. Ultimately, I stayed home that day. This wouldn’t be the last unexpected dizzy spell. I would experience a similar feeling later on when I unknowingly decided to donate blood at a local blood drive. I ended up missing a day of work, while I recovered at home. In high school and college I later noticed that if I missed meals, besides becoming very grumpy (I love food! : ]), I would quickly become off balanced and have a sensation similar to extreme car sickness.

Today, after a routine blood test for my yearly physical showed the levels of iron in my body were extremely low, I now know the cause and more importantly, the ways in which I can prevent the uncomfortable symptoms that accompany “iron deficient anemia.” What I didn’t know before this diagnosis was that low iron in ones blood can reduce the production of red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body .. cue longstanding complaints of feeling exhausted and off-balanced dizzy / fainting spells. All makes sense now! In keeping myself healthy, my doctor and I have created a simple health action plan that I now easily incorporate into my daily life. I take two iron pill supplements, 28 mg each every morning followed by a diet high in protein, mainly salmon filets twice per week. I also make sure to eat every meal.* I monitor my iron levels and progress with doctor check-ins and simple CBC tests quarterly. Currently, my iron levels are so good that I can occasionally forget to take my iron pills without incident. My doctor even forgot during one visit that I was on our iron-pill regimen. I’m so happy. Though being mindful about my diet and iron intake will always be a part of my life, I’m glad that I have the tools to make changes and live a healthy energetic life.

*Please note any health decisions regarding medication should be made with the assistance and consultation of a primary care physician


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