Women more than men are affected by anemia, to date an estimated 400 million women all over the world suffer from this condition and a lot of them aren’t even aware of its mild symptoms. They mistakenly believe that the symptoms are due to the stresses of life. Anemia literally translates to “without blood.” It denotes a disorder characterized by a lack of red blood cells or a deficiency in hemoglobin of these cells.
The main function of red blood cells is to move oxygen from the lungs to body cells in which oxygen is swapped with carbon dioxide. A lack of oxygen supply makes the cells weak thus resulting in a weak body lacking in energy.
Anemia is usually the result of poor red blood cell production, excessive red blood cell destruction or too much loss of blood. It may manifest in different types with the most common being iron deficiency anemia. Without an adequate amount of iron, hemoglobin cannot be made. Iron is an essential substance in the production of hemoglobin. Iron deficiency anemia or IDA is a common disorder among pregnant women. Woman who are of child bearing age are more prone to DA than men because of their monthly menstrual cycles.
One other cause for iron deficiency anemia is inadequate consumption of foods rich in iron. The body’s inability to absorb iron can be another cause for anemia. Longstanding illnesses and diseases that cause blood loss or affect the production of new blood can cause anemia as well. Some of these illnesses include bleeding hemorrhoids, bone marrow disease and peptic ulcer.
According to the traditional view of Chinese medicine, blood is as an essential material for the creation of the body organs, muscles, skin, nerves and bones. The Shen or spirit is also found in blood and this Shen is what balances the psyche. In traditional Chinese medicine, a condition known as “blood deficiency” can best be exemplified in iron-deficiency anemia although the Chinese definition of blood deficiency doesn’t entirely correspond with that of the Western medical definition of anemia.
Anemia may result in the following symptoms:
Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
Shortness of breath
Swollen or sore tongue
Increased hart rate
Pale nail beds and lips
Sallow or pale complexion
There may be anemia sufferers who may exhibit unusual symptoms like having a desire to eat paint, dirt, or ice. Other anemia symptoms include
A poor appetite
Dry and thinning hair and hair that is prematurely graying
Unusual loss of hair
Amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) or delayed menses
Numbness of the limbs
In treating anemia, the first thing you need to do is to determine the underlying factor(s) causing this disorder. This is done through diagnostic tests recommended by a medical physician or a qualified health care professional. If the cause is a condition such as peptic ulcer, you need to resolve that condition first. If your anemia is caused by an improper diet, this can be easily rectified.
If you think you’re suffering from anemia, your doctor can request a blood test to determine the amount of serum ferritin, hematocrit, hemoglobin and red blood cells in your body.
Using traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of iron deficiency anemia usually means availing of Chinese herbs and acupuncture to nourish blood and tonify energy (qi) respectively. These two modalities are always combined with a diet laden with iron. If needed, iron supplements can also be included in the treatment. Pregnant women require an intake of 30 mg of iron each day while infants need a daily dose of 6 mg.
To be sure about the right dose for you, consult with your doctor. You should not take too much iron as it can cause constipation and may even make you at risk of a heart attack. Too much iron in your body can also disrupt your body’s uptake of essential trace minerals. To treat constipation, fiber supplements or a diet rich in fiber is needed.
Some of the foods to eat with high amounts of iron if you have mild anemia include:
Raisins and prunes
Green leafy vegetables
For severe blood deficiency or anemia, some of the iron-rich foods to eat include:
Foods to improve the body’s absorption of iron include strawberries, tomatoes and other citrus foods as well as vitamin C supplements and other foods rich in vitamin C. Foods that can slow down the body’s capacity to absorb iron include candy bars, ice cream, beer, soft drinks, chocolate, rhubarb, Swiss chard, spinach, wheat bran, coffee and tea. Too much intake of calcium supplements and antacids can also weaken iron absorption functionality.
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