TAMPA, Fla. — If you have been feeling tired lately, maybe fatigued and out of breath while doing certain tasks, you make be like millions of Americans who are anemic, meaning they do not have enough iron.
“It affects 6.5 million Americans. While there are common symptoms, many people will have it without even knowing about it,” said Dr. Neil Gokal, Medical Director of Clinical Education at Southwest Medical.
You may be iron deficient and don't even know it.
"Our red blood cells function to carry oxygen from our lungs to other cells and organs so we can live healthy active lifestyles," said Dr. Gokal.
He said it makes it more difficult for your red blood cells to do that if your iron levels are low.
"Iron deficiency anemia, as the name implies, is low levels of iron within our bodies,” said Dr. Gokal.
Some of the telltale signs that you may be anemic are fatigue, shortness of breath with activity, dizziness, and dry mouth. Many people who are iron deficient do not even know they are because most standard blood tests do not check your iron levels.
“So, when you go in for your annual wellness visit or a general physical, they may not be looking at your iron levels,” said Dr. Gokal.
It is recommended you speak with your doctor about getting tested if you feel you may be deficient. It is also important to note that anemia is more prevalent among certain people.
“Iron deficiency anemia is more common among women than men. In fact, one in five women of childbearing age will have iron deficiency anemia,” said Dr. Gokal.
Eating foods that are high in iron like spinach, legumes, and tofu can help, but Dr. Gokal said, sometimes changing your diet is not enough and your physician may prescribe an iron supplement.