Chances are good that you've heard of anemia before, whether from a doctor or because someone you know has it: Anemia is the most common blood condition in the United States, affecting about 3.4 million Americans. It happens when the you don't have enough healthy red blood cells in your body. Since red blood cells carry oxygen to all of the body's tissue, a low count means that you also have a low amount of oxygen in your blood. This is what causes many of the symptoms that come with the condition, and those can vary. The signs that you have anemia can be a little tricky to pinpoint, so it's good to be aware of what they are.
The people who are most at risk for anemia include women and anyone with a chronic disease, including inflammatory bowel syndrome, thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. Women who are pregnant are also at risk. Of course, anyone can have anemia, but if you're in one of these groups, know your risk is a bit higher.
There are several different types of anemia, and the causes of and treatments for each type vary. For example, if you have iron-deficiency anemia, which is the most common form, it's probably because of blood loss and you'll likely need dietary supplements. If your anemia is because of a chronic disease, it will decrease as you treat that disease.
While anemia isn't a fatal condition, it is often seen as a sign of a more serious underlying medical condition. That's exactly why it's so important to get checked out if you think you might be anemic — it could be a warning that something else is going on. Check out the signs you have anemia, and be sure to talk to your doctor if they apply to you.