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    Old 08-09-2008, 04:30 PM   #1
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    Thinking I might possibly have anemia

    No, no official diagnosis. But the more I read about it, the more I wonder if I have it. I've been developing symptoms gradually over the last year, starting with constant headaches. Then I developed shortness of breath. A couple months ago, I began to feel fatigued, and lately I've been feeling a little dizzy.

    Thyroid problems, asthma, blood clots and bronchitis have been ruled out. My doctor thought it may have been due to a sinus infection or allergies, but this did not respond to treatment of either of the aforementioned conditions.

    What makes me think I do not have anemia?
    I do eat stuff that has iron in it...healthy cereals and chicken, mostly. I don't know if the frozen/prepared chicken counts, but I usually will eat that as much as I eat fresh chicken I prepare myself. I have one or both of these at least once or twice a week. I am eating some stuff that is allegedly high in iron, so it's not as if I have no iron in my diet.

    Can I still have anemia even if I am eating foods high in iron?

     
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    Old 08-09-2008, 06:26 PM   #2
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    Re: Thinking I might possibly have anemia

    Dark Stranger--Yes, you can have IDA and eat iron, most people do. There is iron in almost everything, most people have a variety of foods in their diet and if you are not taking in enough there is a problem, especially if your diet is a moderately healthy one. When the rate of iron loss exceeds the amount of iron absorbed the iron stores (Ferritin) are used up resulting in anemia.

    Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) is the most common type of anemia and it has many reasons. This is most commonly due to blood loss, through heavy periods in women and/or blood loss through the GI tract. Malabsoprtion syndromes, some medications and AI diseases can also be responsible. Sometimes there can be more than one reason why people become anemic.

    I ate iron, but not from the heme form (red meat source) which is easily absorbed. I did eat chicken occasionally. I also drank tea (with meals), which has tannins that inhibit absorption of iron or I sometimes drank red wine with my meals. Calcium also inhibits iron i.e., when adding milk to cereals. This in no way wipes out ALL iron but does inhibit iron absorption. I also take PPI's (that reduce stomach acid) impairing iron due to long term use, again, this does NOT impair ALL absorption, just to a lesser degree. These are examples so that you can see how iron can be changed from high intake to less intake.

    I would suggest blood testing to find out for sure quick and simple. When anemia is suspected your doctor should run a standard CBC complete blood count, Ferritin, iron panel, B-12 and Folate to DX anemia.

    Only the CBC is necessary to make a diagnosis, but the others will need done if anemia is present. Good luck on your search. I hope you find answers to your problems. Keep us posted. FLFLOWERGIRL

     
    Old 08-10-2008, 03:53 AM   #3
    ChristineVA
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    Re: Thinking I might possibly have anemia

    Most of us here with IDA feel that we eat well.

    I eat red meat at least two times a week and I eat a bowl of Total Raisin Bran every day. Guess what? The wheat in the cereal inteferes with the iron in the cereal. Oh, those wonderful manufacturers would like you to believe that Total and other iron fortified cereals give you all the iron you need. What they don't discuss is that mostly everything else with the cereal decreases the absorption.

    Chicken--meh...it's okay for iron. I wouldn't call it an iron-rich food. Any iron you get in veggies is also not greatly absorbed. So, if you sit and think about it--you probably don't get as much as you think. Red meat is the key. I think one of my greatest jumps in ferritin was during the time that my co-worker made this fabulous medium-rare slow roasted beef and he brought a bunch of it to work and we had french dip sandwiches for 5 days. That's the kind of food that will really build up your iron.

    Iron is very hard to absorb and, usually it's not a big deal but when your blood loss (for various reasons) exceeds what you can absorb, it's a big deal. Most women who have heavier periods cannot possibly eat enough iron rich food to combat this.

     
    Old 08-10-2008, 12:15 PM   #4
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    Re: Thinking I might possibly have anemia

    I know red meat is very high in iron, but I quit eating it a while ago because I have gathered it is more harmful than helpful in the long run. And I just don't really have a taste for beef.

    Should I get some iron supplements and see if taking those will help at all? I would really prefer to not see a doctor where I attend college because it seems all the hospitals around here are full of people who have no idea what they're talking about (not to mention they have big issues with my insurance - I'm still trying to get some of these issues sorted out from two years ago). I'm hoping this can wait a couple of months until I can return home from college and see my real [competent] doctor - I am pretty sure anemia will not kill me in the meantime.

    I am also wondering something...occasionally my school holds a blood drive. From what I have gathered from other students, they will test you for anemia to see if you are able to give blood (for some reason, being even slightly anemic means you can't donate). I am considering just trying to donate and seeing if I come up as being anemic...if I am, there's my answer without having to spend a ton of money on a hospital test. If I'm not, then my blood can be used for something and I can begin researching other possibilities in terms of my symptoms.

     
    Old 08-10-2008, 01:49 PM   #5
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    Re: Thinking I might possibly have anemia

    Be careful with the blood drive thing. If you read a few posts around here you will see that the Red Cross probably takes blood from people they shouldn't. A few people have ended up iron depleted because they have been donating and the Red Cross deemed them "okay."

    The Red Cross does not check your ferritin. They do a quick finger ***** (which is not totally accurate) and then test your hematocrit. You may not show up as being anemic, but your iron stores could be woefully low and then, if you donate, you've just made yourself considerably worse.

    I, personally, would not consider the Red Cross to be a reputable way to find out your CBC/iron values.

     
    Old 08-10-2008, 08:12 PM   #6
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    Re: Thinking I might possibly have anemia

    DARKNIGHT,
    Just a suggestion about the read meat problem. I did not eat red meat for about 4-5 years. I ended up with B12 deficiency as well as IDA due to heavy periods. My iron came up in about 6 weeks of taking iron, one IM iron shot, B12 shots and eating massive amounts of steak.

    But... we had a cow from a local farm processed. No antibiotics, no chemicals etc. There is a huge difference in a locally processed beef compared to store bought. I used to not be able to tolerate red meat and worried about the harm in it too. I think going back to locally produced meat is the answer. If you;re anemic you probably should not be a vegetarian in my opinion. I was going downhill pretty fast with a ferritin of 9 when I finally realized my abstaining for cholesterol and chemical reasons was hurting and not helping.

    When you cook meat that is locally processed it has almost no fat or grease in the pan. I made hamburgers today and actually had to add a small amount of cooking spray because they were so greaseless. It does cost more of course to buy an entire beef at once, BUT for the whole thing we ended up paying less than two dollars a pound, that includes STEAKS and RIBEYES. Just thought I would throw this info at those who like me thought I would never eat red meat again. It matters what kind you get. I feel the difference everyday in my health and am trying to not only buy locally grown meat but eggs and veggies too. WE are killing ourselves with the additives and chemicals the stores are feeding us. I'll get off my soapbox now...

    Last edited by irisheyes39; 08-10-2008 at 08:15 PM.

     
    Old 08-10-2008, 09:59 PM   #7
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    Re: Thinking I might possibly have anemia

    Hi Darknight! I also eat plenty of red meat etc (I love steak) but my body cannot absorb the iron I am eating because of a problem with malabsortion due to a surgery I had. My doctors kept telling me I was "normal" and I ended up in the hospital getting blood transfusions. It really isn't something to mess with because if you get low enough on blood you can black out or even worse.

    How did you get all of the other health problems ruled out? I would think that if you went to a doctor and they were testing you for these things tht they would have automatically did a CBC blood test on you. There are many kinds of anemia and not all can be cured by just taking iron or B12. It really is important to go to a primary care doctor and have some things ruled out the proper way. I don't think that a blood drive is a bad place to start (i was rejected a couple times for this) but overall you really should go to see a doctor. If you do have anemia it can be life threatening but the good news is it is usually treatable.

    Good luck!!
    Amanda

     
    Old 08-11-2008, 08:50 AM   #8
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    Re: Thinking I might possibly have anemia

    I got all the other issues ruled out because all I had to begin with was the shortness of breath and the headaches. This is why my doctor's initial conclusion was asthma (and my ENT suspected a sinus infection). The fatigue I figured was just all in my head, or that maybe I wasn't sleeping as well as I thought I was. The dizziness I also figured was in my head, but in any case, I have not asked my doctors about the dizziness or the fatigue and my primary care doctor is really really good at not listening to a word I say, so even if I did suggest anemia, he'd probably say it's not possible...because he didn't think of that possibility.

    I'll try and see someone when I return home...hopefully my mother (whose insurance I am still on) will not blow me off for overreacting like she tends to do. I think this can probably wait for another month or two.

    Also, who is this Dark Night everyone's talking to?

     
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