Anemia, also known as low hemoglobin, is a condition in which one does not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry sufficient amounts of oxygen to the body’s tissues. Some of the most common symptoms of anemia are feeling tired and weak. There are various safety considerations for anemia one can take to manage and treat their condition.
Safety considerations for anemia at home
There are various symptoms one can watch for if they suspect they may be anemic. In addition to fatigue and weakness, these can include pale or yellowish skin, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness, headaches, chest pain and cold hands or feet. There are various safety considerations for anemia at home one can take both to prevent anemia and to get healthy red blood cells back to functioning at an optimal level. These include:
The importance of safe exercise
A decline in performance and energy during exercise is actually one of the main ways people notice they’re feeling off and ultimately seek out an anemia diagnosis. If it’s confirmed you have anemia, your doctor will most likely recommend backing off from intense exercise until your iron and red blood cell levels stabilize. Pushing through a hard workout when you’re feeling so fatigued might prove to be nearly impossible and certainly wouldn’t be enjoyable, anyway.
Balance between exercise and rest
Your doctor will likely emphasize the importance of rest and recovery if you have anemia, and your body will welcome the rest, as you likely wouldn’t enjoy a heavy sweat session when feeling so fatigued anyway. While experiencing the decondition that results from inactivity may be frustrating, you may find that you feel better and your spirits are lifted by daily outside time spent walking as you recover.
Wear your ID at all times
If you have anemia, it’s imperative to wear a medical ID should you find yourself in an emergency situation where you’re not able to communicate that you have this condition. The fact that you have anemia could factor into your treatment for other medical emergencies.
Consuming a diet rich in iron, vitamin B-12, folate and copper is imperative for preventing anemia, and Not getting enough of these nutrients can increase your risk of having this condition.
Talk to your doctor about how you can increase your levels through certain foods, such as meats, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
Oftentimes it’s difficult for people to get enough of certain nutrients through foods, though, so talk to your doctor to see if consuming a multivitamin may be an ideal option for you. Your doctor may also recommend taking separate iron supplements to get your levels up.
Heavy alcohol use can also cause anemia, so your doctor will likely ask how much you’re drinking on a daily basis and perhaps recommend cutting back.
Safety precautions for anemia and flying (high altitudes)
One thing many people may not be aware of are important safety precautions for anemia with regard to flying. Air passengers with anemia may experience lightheadedness or even possibly lose consciousness during a flight. This risk may be increased if they physically exert themselves, such as by getting up to use the lavatory.
If you have anemia and are considering traveling, talk to your doctor for counsel on whether it’s safe to do so. If you do fly, make sure to drink plenty of water while in transit.
Anemia safety considerations and surgery
Surgery is another instance in which it’s important for your medical team to be aware of your condition if you’re anemic. Surgery with anemia, particularly paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, can be risky because it can increase your risk of getting blood clots, can cause serious bleeding if you have a low platelet count, and may require you to have platelet transfusions before your surgery.
Before you have surgery, be sure your specialist talks to your surgeon and take any blood thinners your doctor advises as soon as possible afterward.
And even if you’ve informed your surgery team about your condition ahead of time, wearing your medical ID is always a good idea as well.
Safety considerations for Pernicious Anemia
Pernicious anemia is a type of anemia in which a decrease in red blood cells takes place in the intestines, resulting in the inability to absorb vitamin B12. Treatment can include a monthly shot of vitamin B12 or regular B12 supplementation by mouth.
It’s important to start treatment for this type of anemia early, so safety considerations for pernicious anemia include watching for symptoms such as:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Fatigue, lack of energy, or lightheadedness when standing up or during activity
- Loss of appetite
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath, particularly during exercise
- Swollen, red tongue or bleeding gums
- Signs of nervous system damage, including confusion, short-term memory loss, loss of balance, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, and problems concentrating or experiences with hallucinations or delusions
Safety considerations for Aplastic Anemia
Aplastic anemia is a form of bone marrow failure. Bone marrow is soft, fatty tissue that forms new blood cells. With aplastic anemia, these new cells fail to form, resulting in increased risk of bleeding and infection.
Safety considerations for aplastic anemia include:
- Avoiding high-contact sports like football, as they have an increased risk of injury and bleeding
- Washing your hands frequently to avoid bacteria and viral infections
- Resting as needed, particularly when you feel short of breath
Safety considerations for Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle cell anemia is a common bleeding disorder. It’s an incurable hereditary condition with treatment plans available to manage associated pain and slow the death rate. Safety considerations for sickle cell anemia include:
- Taking all prescribed medications and recommended supplements
- Receiving all recommended vaccinations as a child and adult
- Drink plenty of water
- Don’t smoke
- Get plenty of exercise (but don’t overdo it if you feel weak or fatigued)
- Avoid extreme temperatures
In sum, the various types of anemia can be successfully managed with an appropriate treatment plan outlined by your healthcare team. Wearing your medical ID at all times is another safety precaution you can take to ensure your condition is managed properly by others when you may not be able to vocally advocate for yourself.