Anemia Symptoms in Women

Anemia can be caused by the deficiency of iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12. Find out more about anemia, its causes, symptoms, and treatment.
Chandramita Bora Apr 14, 2019
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The term anemia is commonly used to refer to a decrease in the number of red blood cells, or a low level of hemoglobin. It can be of several different types, and each type of anemia can be caused by different factors.
For example, it can be caused by the deficiency of iron, or it can be associated with a deficiency of folic acid and vitamin B12. It can produce several symptoms depending on the specific type and the severity of the condition.

Causes of Anemia in Women

Women, particularly of the childbearing age, are more likely to develop this condition, as they lose blood every month during menstruation. Many women can develop anemia in pregnancy as well.
As mentioned already, there are different types of anemia, such as iron deficiency anemia, vitamin deficiency anemia, aplastic anemia, hemolytic anemia, sickle cell anemia, and anemia caused by chronic diseases and diseases of the bone marrow.
Iron deficiency anemia can be caused by the excessive loss of iron due to conditions like blood loss, which in turn can be caused by hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, polyps, tumors, and heavy menstrual periods. A diet low in iron, as well as poor absorption of iron can also cause this condition.
Vitamin deficiency anemia can be caused by the deficiency of vitamin B12 and folic acid, which can be associated with a diet low in these vitamins, as well as the inability of the body to absorb vitamin B12 effectively. Also, diseases like cancer, HIV/AIDS, Crohn's disease, kidney failure, leukemia, and myelodysplastic syndromes can cause this condition.
Aplastic anemia on the other hand, is characterized by the inability of the bone marrow to produce blood cells effectively, while hemolytic anemia is the condition, where the red blood cells get destroyed at a rate much faster than the rate in which they are produced.
Sickle cell anemia is a severe type of anemia, where the bone marrow produces sickle-shaped red blood cells, which die within a short span of time.

Anemia Signs in Women

The signs and symptoms of anemia in women are not very different from the symptoms observed in men. The symptoms of different types of anemia can differ considerably. Mild anemia may not produce symptoms or produce only minor symptoms that can go unnoticed. The following are some of the most common symptoms that can be produced by this condition:
  • Excessive fatigue and tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Poor concentration
  • Pale skin
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Forgetfulness
In addition to the symptoms mentioned earlier, women with iron deficiency anemia can experience a few additional symptoms like:
  • Brittle nails
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weakness
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sore tongue
  • Cravings for unusual substances, like ice, grass, dirt, paper, wax, hair, etc.
Apart from these, conditions like sickle cell anemia can produce a few additional symptoms like swollen hands and feet, jaundice, frequent infections, pain in the chest, abdomen, and the joints, and vision problems. Hemolytic anemia can also jaundice, pain in the abdomen and other parts of the body, and leg ulcers, along with the usual symptoms of anemia.
The symptoms of aplastic anemia are more or less similar to the symptoms mentioned earlier. Additionally, it can cause nosebleeds, bleeding gums, and delayed blood clotting.

Anemia Treatment

The treatment of this condition depends on the underlying causes. Iron deficiency anemia can be treated by locating the source of bleeding and then taking appropriate measures to stop it. Iron supplements are also required for treating this condition.
A diet that contains iron-rich foods can help alleviate this condition. Anemia caused by the deficiency of vitamin B12 and folic acid can also be treated with the help of supplements, and foods that contain these vitamins.
But blood transfusions and bone marrow transplant can be required for treating aplastic anemia. Bone marrow transplant, along with appropriate medications and chemotherapy are employed for treating anemia caused by cancer and bone marrow diseases.
Treatment for sickle cell anemia can involve the administration of pain relieving drugs, antibiotics, blood transfusion, supplements of folic acid, and oxygen. So, the treatment of this condition can vary significantly depending on the specific type.
Some symptoms of anemia like fatigue, weakness, irritability and lack of concentration may go unnoticed, as they are usually said to be associated with physical and mental stress. But these symptoms should not be neglected and ruled out as minor problems, as these can be caused by anemia. If left untreated, this can lead to several health complications.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.