ZocdocAnswersIs my fatigue caused by anemia?

Question

Is my fatigue caused by anemia?

How do you know if you are anemic? I've been having some trouble with fatigue and not having any energy and I know that happens to anemic people. Do i just need a blood test to see if I am anemic?

Answer

Anemia (low red blood cell count) can be caused by a variety of conditions, and is also one of many conditions that can cause someone to feel excessively fatigued. One very common cause of anemia is iron-deficiency, often developed as a result of chronic blood loss, either through gastrointestinal bleeding or with heavy menstrual bleeding. Deficiencies in vitamin B12 and folic acid can also cause anemia. Any process that leads to excessive breakdown of red blood cells can also cause anemia; these processes can be inherited in the case of sickle cell disease, or acquired in the case of medication-induced hemolysis. Disorders of the bone marrow can also lead to anemia, and may also cause low white blood cell and platelet counts as well. A thorough history and physical exam by your primary care physician can often point toward the prescence of anemia and often toward a specific etiology. For example, iron-deficiency anemia may lead a person to crave ice and can cause specific changes to the fingernails. If anemia is suspected, then blood tests can be used to determine the red blood cell count, the characteristics of the red blood cells, and measure any vitamins or minerals that may be the underlying cause of the anemia. If you have any concerns about your health, including excessive fatigue, then you should consult with your primary care doctor for further work-up.

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