ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Signs and Symptoms of Anemia

Updated on October 18, 2012
Blood cells in a blood vessel
Blood cells in a blood vessel | Source

Anemia disease can cause a variety of health problems, so it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of anemia. A person can become anemic when their body has lower than normal levels of hemoglobin or blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Having unhealthy red blood cells or too few can prohibit the body’s cells from getting the right amount of oxygen. Anemia disease is one of the most common blood conditions and can develop at some point in life or be hereditary. Here are some of the signs and symptoms of anemia.

Symptoms of Anemia

The symptoms of anemia depend on whether an individual has mild or sever anemia. Symptoms of this condition can include fatigue, decreased energy, weakness, shortness of breath, cardiac issues, change in skin tone and dizziness.

Fratigue | Source

Fatigue and Decreased Energy

Fatigue is one of the well-known symptoms of anemia. The decrease in the number of red blood cells means a decrease in the amount of oxygen supplied to the heart, muscles and lungs. The lack of oxygen causes people to feel lethargic. People experiencing fatigue may be both physically and mentally drained.


Weakness is another one of the signs and symptoms of anemia. People with anemia disease have red blood cells that do not produce sufficient amounts of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that is rich in iron. Iron is a necessary component to healthy muscles. Iron helps to provide oxygen to ensure the proper functioning of muscles.

Shortness of Breath

Anemia disease causes some people to experience shortness of breath or dyspnea. This symptom of anemia becomes evident when people engage in physical activities. Dyspnea is a problem when it happens regularly. This symptom results from insufficient amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. Anyone that experiences shortness of breath, especially without undertaking any physical activity, should consult a physician.

Cardiac Symptoms

Another symptom of anemia to be aware of are the cardiac symptoms. Anemia can cause heart palpitations, angina, arrhythmia and changes in heart rhythm. Tissue hypoxia, oxygen deprivation, forces the heart to increase its level of functioning. Patients that suffer from an existing heart condition are more likely to experience cardiac symptoms.

Changes in Skin Tone

Changes in the appearance of skin are another highly noticeable symptom of anemia. Lack of oxygen may leave people with a pale appearance. The change in appearance is evident in the whites of the eyes and area underneath the tongue. In certain situations, there may be swelling of the mouth or tongue. Other people may experience cold hands and feet. Jaundice is another skin condition that can occur in people with anemia. The destruction of red blood cells causes the skin to look yellow or jaundiced.

The Neurological Symptoms of Anemia

One of the effects of anemia is the lack of oxygenation in the body. Neurological changes are a sign of anemia. When the brain does not receive enough oxygen, people will experience poor concentration, become irritable, confused and light-headed or dizzy. People with anemia have a hard time falling asleep or awaken during their sleep, despite experiencing fatigue.

Sleeping | Source


Pica is a rare symptom of anemia. This symptom is mostly seen in people what suffer from iron-deficiency anemia. Pica is an eating disorder where people crave non-food substances like ice, dirt or clay. Pagophagia is a form of pica. People with this form of pica compulsively ingest iced drinks or ice. This type of pica is the most common form of pica seen experienced by anemia patients.

Oral Health Symptoms

Anemia can be suspected as the cause of changes in oral health. Anemia’s major effect on the body’s tissue and cells is in its limiting the amount of oxygen throughout the body. People with anemia have an increased chance of developing gum disease, or periodontitis. The decrease in red blood cells can make the gums look pale. Also, the tongue may begin to swell, appear paler in color or feel sore.

Changes in the Color of Urine

Changes in the color of urine may indicate the presence of anemia. Urine is normally yellow in color. Abnormal looking urine may look dark, blood-colored or cloudy. Hemolytic anemia is associated with changes in urine color. The color change is the result of the destruction of red blood cells that are excreted in the urine.

Skin Bruises More Easily

Anemia is linked to bruising. The decrease in blood cell’s production or loss can also result in the loss of platelets in the body. Platelets are an element of the blood that helps people heal and assist the blood’s clothing ability. It is the decrease in platelets the cause some people to bruise easily.

Irregular Menstruation

As previously stated, anemia causes a decrease in the amount of oxygen the body receives and its levels of hemoglobin. Usually, if anemia has an effect on the regularity and frequency of the menstrual cycle, the person has iron deficiency anemia. It should be noted that anemia and menstruation can have a cyclical relationship. While anemia can affect the timing of menstruation, heavy periods make anemia more severe.

Blood cells
Blood cells | Source

What are the Signs of Anemia?

There are many signs that indicate that a person has anemia. Physicians use these signs to qualify the presence of anemia. The difference between the symptoms of anemia and signs of anemia are really a matter of what a patient experiences versus what can be verified. The symptoms of this condition are what lead people to consult a physician.

Impaired T-Cell and Macrophage Function

One of the possible signs of anemia is t-cell and macrophage impairment. T-cells and macrophages are a part of the immune system. Macrophages are white blood cells that reside in the connective tissue and bloodstream. They operate as an immunity defense and destroy viruses and bacteria. The impaired function of the cells and lymphocytes leave anemic people vulnerable to infections.

Orthostatic Hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension is also referred to as a dizzy spell. They occur when a person’s blood pressure drops when they stand. This condition can also be one of the signs of anemia. In the case of a person with anemia, the body has very little blood volume. If there is very little blood volume as the heart pumps, the blood pressure falls.

Gastrointestinal Signs

There are several gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease that affect the body’s ability to absorb iron. When the body does not absorb enough iron, it will begin to use its reserve. Once the iron reserve is gone, the body’s productions of red blood cells start to decrease. Iron-deficiency anemia is often the result of this.

Low Body Temperature

The average body temperature is around 98.6 degrees °F (or 37 °C). Despite the surrounding environmental conditions, the body is able to keep its internal temperature within a non-hazardous temperature range. Having a low body temperature is one of the signs of anemia. Because the red blood cells in the body are not functioning as they should or there are fewer cells, the body is receiving less iron. Having too little iron impairs the body’s ability to regulate its temperature.

Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure, hypotension, is another possible sign of anemia. Insufficient amounts of B-12, iron and folate can cause anemic disease. Because anemia prohibits the body from producing enough red blood cells, lower levels of oxygen and nutrients move throughout the body. Blood pressure is regulated by the heart’s pumping of the blood into the arteries. The arteries respond to the amount of blood flow in them. When the flow of blood is low, there is less resistance. The heart does not contract as strongly, the end result is low blood pressure.

Anemic disease can have many causes. For some people it is a hereditary condition, others develop it later in life. The signs and symptoms of anemia are something the people should not ignore. The presence of anemia disease can indicate a larger problem and create detrimental risks to a person’s health. Anyone who may think that they are experiencing the signs and symptoms of anemia should consult their physician.

If you like my article The Signs and Symptoms of Anemia, please share, rate or comment it. If you have some ideas to improve the hub, please feel free to contact me.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image 4 years ago

      really very good information i have read thank you very much

    • profile image

      rona franco 4 years ago

      thank you for the information,now i realize how crucial iron in our body..i have that symptoms too,i'm aware now for this.

    • profile image

      Jade 4 years ago

      Very thorough and understandable. Thank you for such a wonderful article.

    • profile image

      solly border 4 years ago

      how is anemia related to age or kiddney chronic deiese?

    • Mom Kat profile image

      Mom Kat 5 years ago from USA

      This was very well written. I suffer from low-iron anemia and I experience a lot of the symptoms when I don't take my iron pills. It got so out of control that I was very ill for 2 years. My teeth were destroyed because I couldn't absorb any nutrition from my food. My gastrointestinal tract hated me & caused me a great deal of pain and discomfort. By the time I actually got to the doctor because I couldn't live like that anymore my iron level was at a 9.5 ~ this caused the doc a great deal of concern, being that it was supposed to be at a 13 and anything under 11 is dangerous.

      He had me taking 3 iron pills a day and visiting him for tests once a month. For 3 months there weren't any changes. He told me to start taking vitamin C with my iron and that if there were still no changes next month, he was going to give me an iron injection! (I hate needles)

      Well, the C worked. My next test was at a 11, which meant my body was finally absorbing the iron.

      When I don't take my iron & vitamin C, my levels go down, so it looks like it's going to be a life-long thing for me.

      I have always had a difficult time maintaining my weight. I have low blood-pressure, dizziness, irritability, and fatigue. My skin looks "sick" and my eyes get dark circles. I bruise easily and it takes a long time for them to heal.

      It's amazing what 1 little deficiency can do to a body!

    • pringoooals profile image

      Karina 5 years ago from Edinburgh

      Oh my, I have almost all the sympthoms. Time to do something about it. Good to get the understanding where it all might come from. Thanks for sharing!

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 5 years ago from California

      Very informative! Thank you for sharing! I learned quite a bit, I thought it just made one tired! So much more complicated now isn't it?

    • Scribenet profile image

      Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Good information on anemia, I did not realize it caused so many conditions. Thanks for an informative Hub!