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Anemia (cont.)

Anemia Symptoms

Because a low red blood cell count decreases oxygen delivery to every tissue in the body, anemia can cause a variety of signs and symptoms. It can also worsen the symptoms of almost any other underlying medical condition. If anemia is mild, it may not cause any symptoms. If anemia is slowly ongoing (chronic), the body may adapt and compensate for the change; in this case there may not be any symptoms until the anemia becomes more severe.

Symptoms of anemia may include the following:

  • fatigue;
  • decreased energy;
  • weakness;
  • shortness of breath;
  • lightheadedness;
  • palpitations (feeling of the heart racing or beating irregularly); and
  • looking pale.

Symptoms of severe anemia may include:

Some of the signs that may indicate anemia in an individual may include:

  • Change in stool color, including black and tarry stools (sticky and foul smelling), maroon-colored, or visibly bloody stools if the anemia is due to blood loss through the gastrointestinal tract;
  • rapid heart rate;
  • low blood pressure;
  • rapid breathing;
  • pale or cold skin;
  • yellow skin called jaundice if anemia is due to red blood cell breakdown;
  • heart murmur; and
  • enlargement of the spleen with certain causes of anemia.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/27/2012

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