Dangerously anaemic? The symptom you've never heard of – and when to see a doctor | The Sun

ANAEMIA is a common blood disorder which affects around a billion people worldwide.

In the UK, it is estimated that 3 per cent of men and 8 per cent of women suffer with the condition.

Iron deficiency anaemia is caused by lack of iron, often because of blood loss or pregnancy.

It means there aren't enough healthy red blood cells in the blood to carry oxygen to the body's tissues.

Because of this it can leave sufferers tired and short of breath.

One lesser known symptom of the condition is blue lips.

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“When red blood cells become low in iron, they become smaller and paler in the centre so skin also becomes paler," Dr Marilyn Murr, of family and community medicine at the University of Texas, US, said.

However, this sign may be easier to detect in the eyes.

If the area inside your bottom eyelid is lighter than normal, she told Everyday health.

When to see a doctor

You should see your GP if you experience any symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia, according to the NHS.

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They should be able to diagnose the condition using a simple blood test.

Check if you have iron deficiency anaemia

Symptoms can include:

  • tiredness and lack of energy
  • shortness of breath
  • noticeable heartbeats (heart palpitations)
  • pale skin

Less common symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • hearing ringing, buzzing or hissing noises inside your head (tinnitus)
  • food tasting strange
  • feeling itchy
  • a sore tongue
  • hair loss – you notice more hair coming out when brushing or washing it
  • wanting to eat non-food items, such as paper or ice (pica)
  • finding it hard to swallow (dysphagia)
  • painful open sores (ulcers) in the corners of your mouth
  • spoon-shaped nails
  • restless legs syndrome

What causes anaemia?

Many things can trigger anaemia.

In women of reproductive age, periods and pregnancy are common causes of the condition.

According to the NHS, this is because the body requires more iron for your baby during pregnancy.

In men and post-menopausal women, the most common cause is bleeding in the stomach and intestines.

This type of internal bleeding can be caused by stomach ulcers, stomach cancer, bowel cancer, or anti-inflammatory drugs.

How is anaemia treated?

Treating anaemia usually involvestaking iron supplements to boost the low levels of iron in your body.

You may also be recommended to eat the following foods which are good sources of iron:

  • dark-green leafy vegetables, such as watercress and curly kale
  • iron-fortified cereals or bread
  • brown rice 
  • pulses and beans
  • nuts and seeds
  • meat, fish and tofu
  • eggs
  • dried fruit, such as dried apricots, prunes and raisins

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