SOHANI GOONETILLAKE LYRICS
To all my girlfriends who choose to lie down a bit instead of taking this blood test, please get up – but not too quickly.
My girlfriends and I bond over many shared work experiences gossip to the drama of dating, but another experience that I’ve noticed that binds us is that many of us have iron deficiencies of varying severity.
Iron deficiency occurs when iron intakes or iron absorption rates fail to meet the body’s iron needs. In its most severe form, anemia, red blood cells can no longer carry enough oxygen around the body, resulting in extreme weakness.
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I have seen my friends deal with their diagnoses in various ways. From swearing every time they forget to take their daily dose of Ferro grad-C, to having to get a blood transfusion, and sadly, many ignore it completely.
Doctors regularly underestimates women’s health issues and gender stereotypes often mean that women endure unnecessary discomfort and Side effects. As a result, women often dismiss their excessive fatigue and laugh at getting a bruise the size of Tasmania when they accidentally bump into something.
To research suggests that iron deficiency is often overlooked by doctors – and it can have serious consequences for women’s health. What makes this even more concerning is that iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world, affecting approximately 2 billion people worldwide, and it is particularly prevalent in women.
Having an iron deficiency is literally exhausting to deal with, but it’s not just a condition that makes women want to curl up with a slice of red meat and nap all day. The symptoms are extensive and the consequences of not treating it must be taken seriously.
What are the symptoms?
Fatigue, brain fog, lack of concentration, feeling cold, dizziness, hair loss, insomnia, shortness of breath, mood swings, and inability to do normal activities or do exercise are just some of the symptoms associated with iron deficiency.
This long list of symptoms is enough for Google to tell you that you have three different illnesses and you have one week left to live. Instead of seeing Dr. Google, I thought it best to talk to a medical professional about why this disease commonly affects women and how they should go about treating it.
What causes iron deficiency and why are women more likely to be iron deficient?
Women need higher iron levels to compensate for the amount of iron they lose each month during menstruation. endocrinologist, Dr Sonia Davisontells me that iron deficiency is caused by a number of factors:
- Heavy periods due to pathological causes such as fibroids and adenomyosis
- Unsatisfactory iron intake in your diet, especially when the amount of meat is low, especially red meat
- A high metabolism and lots of exercise means you’re likely to burn your iron stores faster.
- Sometimes it can be due to pathological causes, such as gastritis, celiac disease and esophagitis
- Sometimes it can indicate the presence of a tumor, such as gastric cancer or colon cancer, which is another reason why iron deficiency should always be properly investigated.
How to get a diagnosis?
To diagnose the severity of your iron deficiency, your doctor will order a blood test to check your complete blood count, hemoglobin levels, blood iron levels, and ferritin levels.
How is it treated?
Dr. Davison refers to treating and restoring iron stores as simply “filling the gas tank” and explains that it can be done in several ways:
- Consume more iron in your diet. If you follow a plant-based diet, it is always possible to increase your intake. Lentils, kidney beans, tofu and chickpeas are all high in iron
- If changing your diet isn’t an option for you, add a vitamin C supplement for better absorption.
- Some will need an iron infusion
Additional blood tests may then be ordered to assess the effectiveness of the treatment and to find out if there are other underlying causes affecting your iron levels.
If left untreated, iron deficiency can have serious consequences on mental and physical health as well as work productivity. To all my girlfriends who choose to lie down for a bit instead of taking this blood test, please get up – but not too quickly. Your mental and physical health matters.
For more information on why iron is essential to your health, go to here.