Activity Intolerance in Anemic Athletes
One of the most common symptoms of anemia is weakness and fatigue, and a condition called activity intolerance can affect individuals who are typically sedentary or very athletic.
This can be very frustrating for people who are used to living active lifestyles and working out on a regular basis.
Here is a description of the phenomenon known as activity intolerance, its biological causes, and how athletes with anemia can cope with this condition.
Understanding Activity Intolerance
Activity intolerance occurs when the body has insufficient energy to engage in daily activities. It’s important to distinguish between activity intolerance and fatigue, which is a draining feeling that cannot be treated by rest.
While both conditions can cause feelings of tiredness, activity intolerance is treated by learning to increase the tolerance for activity and lengthen one’s endurance for it.
Causes of Activity Intolerance
Activity Intolerance is typically caused by feelings of generalized weakness that are the result of an acute or chronic illness. Common conditions that result in activity intolerance include anemia, obesity, malnourishment, diabetes, heart problems, and as a side effect of certain medications. Factors that impact activity intolerance include anything that compromises the transportation of oxygen in the body or that creates excessive demands on one’s energy. Age-related conditions may also increase one’s risk of activity intolerance.
Symptoms of Activity Intolerance
In addition to a lack of energy for normal activities, this condition is marked by other common characteristics as well. These include a lack of motivation, poor sleep, pain, and depression. Those who suffer from activity intolerance may also experience a weakened pulse, dizziness, a change in heart rhythm, and shortness of breath. Some these symptoms may mirror the basic symptoms if iron deficiency anemia, but only an experienced medical professional can diagnose the condition of activity intolerance.
How Athletes Can Cope with Activity Intolerance
The first step in treating activity intolerance is to diagnose the root cause of the condition. If the root cause is anemia, then iron supplements like Fergon may help alleviate the symptoms. To improve intolerance, doctors and nurses commonly administer prescribed iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, or packed red blood cells to patients. If the cause of the condition is something else, then that condition will likely require different treatment.
Interventions that may help individuals with activity intolerance include developing exercise programs that prevent muscle atrophy and strengthen the cardiovascular system. Medical professionals should evaluate patient recovery periods between exercise sessions to prevent overload and ensure that proper rest periods are taken. However, it is advisable for patients who begin feeling symptoms of activity intolerance, like dizziness, to stop exercising until they recover and can reevaluate the workout program.
A healthy nutrition plan can benefit the overall health status of anemic athletes with activity intolerance, and a diet with iron-rich foods may help alleviate symptoms of anemia. This includes foods like spinach, eggs, soybeans, mussels, oysters, liver, and lentils.
Athletes in particular may suffer mentally and emotionally from chronically low energy levels, which is understandable but not untreatable. But the important thing to remember about exercising with anemia is to find workouts that provide health benefits but don’t drain all of the body’s energy. Always discuss when it’s safe to exercise and when it’s not with a doctor if you are concerned about activity intolerance.
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