I don't know much about anemia or iron supplements but I've gotten a crash course this week.
According to WebMD, symptoms common to many types of anemia include the following:
- Easy fatigue and loss of energy - YEP
- Unusually rapid heart beat, particularly with exercise - YEP
- Shortness of breath and headache, particularly with exercise - YEP
- Difficulty concentrating - YEP
- Dizziness - Not really
- Pale skin - Um...I'm Italian. This never comes into play
- Leg cramps - YEP
- Insomnia - Not really
|This is totally me.|
And, since my anemia is specific to an iron deficiency, I may also have:
- Hunger for strange substances such as paper, ice, or dirt (a condition called pica). - No. Just sugar.
- Upward curvature of the nails referred to as koilonychias.- Oh....gross!NO! (thank baby jesus)
- Soreness of the mouth with cracks at the corners. - Nope
And this is the truth of it. Ask anyone how they're doing and very often the answer is "I'm exhausted" or "I could use a nap" or something along those lines. We are such a culture of tired people that my symptoms were undetectable as an actual health issue without a blood test. I assumed that everyone fell asleep sitting up. Or got winded going up a slight incline.
On top of that, I'm "of a certain age" which means that many of those symptoms could have been (and might still be) attributed to girly-issues too. I guess we'll find out once my blood is back to normal.
Which leads me to my final thought on this subject - iron supplements SUCK. Or, more accurately, the side effects from taking iron suck. First on the list: constipation. I'm talking the kind that requires drinking prune juice to counteract it. What am I? 80 years old? Next: black poop. Trust me when I tell you, this is seriously disconcerting. And finally, my personal favorite: severe nausea. Like, "I can barely eat anything" kind of nausea or "I haven't been this sick to my stomach since I had food poisoning" kind of nausea. And it's constant. Now, one could look on the upside which is that, in the last few days, I think I've lost 5 pounds. But, really, not a good diet plan. I'm distractible enough without having the threat of constant puking hanging over my head.
I'm doing everything the doctor suggested - I take it after I eat and then put a little food on top of it and I've doubled my water intake. I'm even drinking Emergen-C to help the absorption of the iron. All of these help mitigate the issues a bit, but not enough.
Needless to say, I want and need to fix the anemia but there's got to be a better way. Being tired is WAY better than being pukey. I may try a liquid form of iron which is ridiculously expensive but might not be so harsh. Or, worst-case-scenario, I'll ask the doctor to give me shots. Even shots are better than pukey.
I'd be happy to hear of any tricks or tips you might have to helping with the iron pill side effects - anything to tide me over until I can talk to the doctor next week.
For what it's worth - get a blood work-up once a year. You'll never know what you might find.
- Alex (aka Iron Woman)