Anemia, Type Not Specified (Adult)

Red blood cells carry oxygen to the tissues of your body. Anemia is a condition in which you have too few red blood cells. You need iron to make red blood cells. The most common cause of anemia is not having enough iron. This may be because of:

  • Loss of blood. This can be caused by heavy menstrual periods. It can also be caused by bleeding from the stomach or intestines.

  • Major surgery or physical trauma

  • Pregnancy

  • Certain medicines or treatments, such as chemotherapy

  • Not eating enough foods that contain iron.

Other causes of anemia include certain vitamin deficiencies, chronic kidney disease, and other chronic illnesses.

Anemia makes you feel tired and run down. When anemia becomes severe, your skin becomes pale. You may feel short of breath or have chest pain after physical activity. Other symptoms include:

  • Headaches

  • Chest pain or shortness of breath

  • Fast or irregular heartbeat

  • Pounding or whooshing in your ears

  • Dizziness

  • Leg cramps with physical activity

  • Drowsiness

Home care

Follow these guidelines when caring for yourself at home:

  • Don’t overexert yourself.

  • Eat foods rich in iron, such as beef, poultry, fish, dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, and nuts.

  • Talk with your healthcare provider before traveling by air or to high altitudes.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. You may need other blood tests to find out the exact cause of your anemia. If you had testing done today, it may take several days to get all of the results. You can follow up with your provider to get the results.

Call 911

Call 911 if any of the following occur:

  • Shortness of breath or chest pain

  • Dizziness or fainting

  • Vomiting blood or passing red- or black-colored stool

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