The Effects of Anemia & The Dangers of Untreated Anemia
Many of the articles shared here for educational purposes focus on treatment options for various types of anemia. But what would happen if anemia is not treated and the symptoms are ignored for an extended period of time? Many people aren’t aware that they have anemia or choose to ignore the symptoms they feel due to fear, lack of access to health care, or not making personal health a top priority.
It should go without saying that diagnosing and treating a condition of anemia is very important. But the more specific purpose of this article is to explain the dangers of untreated anemia and to describe the short-term and long-term effects of nontreatment.
Common Effects of Anemia
The best way to address minor health issues before they become major ones is to learn about what various symptoms could mean and consult a doctor for professional advice. The common effects of anemia include fatigue, pale skin, cold hands and feet, headaches, irregular heartbeat, and shortness of breath. These symptoms often start out as very mild and go unnoticed until they worsen and get in the way of daily activities.
Dangers of Untreated Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia can produce very severe symptoms and result in major medical complications if it is not diagnosed and treated promptly. For example, one of the dangers of untreated anemia is organ damage because anemia lessens the amount of oxygen that reaches various body parts. Heart damage can be caused by untreated anemia because the heart has to work harder to compensate for fewer red blood cells and less hemoglobin. In pregnant women, untreated anemia can lead to premature birth, low birth weight, and even infant death.
Possible Complications of Anemia
Having anemia involves much more than just feeling a little tired throughout the day. Possible complications of anemia are heart and lung problems because of the additional strain put on these organs when there isn’t enough iron in the body. More specifically, an abnormal heartbeat known as tachycardia may occur, as well as heart failure following a failure to treat severe iron deficiency anemia. Other complications of anemia that isn’t treated are heart attack, arrhythmia, and angina.
Can Anemia Cause Death?
Because of anemia’s strong connections to the heart, it is certainly possible for anemia to be a contributing factor of death. Heart attack is a leading cause of death among adults, and untreated anemia can make a weak heart even weaker and more strained. While most cases of anemia are very treatable, the risk of a cardiovascular event is much higher the longer that treatment is delayed.
Fortunately, anemia is usually very easily diagnosed by visiting a doctor and having a complete blood count (CBC) test performed. This is a measurement of the blood cells contained in a patient’s blood, and normal hematocrit levels are usually between 40 and 52 percent for men and between 35 and 47 percent for women. Based upon the symptoms and test results, a doctor may also recommend a test to identify the size and shape of red blood cells or take a look at a person’s bone marrow.
Don’t delay seeking treatment for a suspected case of untreated anemia. The solution to restoring optimal health and preventing future disease may be as simple as taking iron supplements like Fergon and eating more foods rich in iron and other nutrients.
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