Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment of “Tired Blood”
People in the modern world are tired. While stress, lack of physical exercise, and a complete dismissal of “at least eight hours of sleep a night” are contributors, most people wouldn’t think of blaming their blood. But for 3.4 million Americans, being tired is one of a host of symptoms— including headaches, pale skin, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, not to mention apathy and irritability—that collectively point to “tired blood,” more accurately known as anemia.
By Ashley Miller
Derived from the Greek word anaimía, meaning “lack of blood,” anemia occurs when a person’s blood has low levels of healthy red blood cells. But while there are over 400 types of anemia, iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) is the most common, accounting for half of all anemia cases, and is far more prevalent in women than men.
Iron-deficiency anemia occurs when a woman has insufficient stores of iron, which help the body manufacture hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. “If the body doesn’t have iron to make hemoglobin, red blood cells are actually formed incorrectly,” says Dr. Synthia Beeler, a general practitioner with Hamilton Family Medicine. “They’re smaller and paler in color.” Consequently, oxygen doesn’t travel as easily from the lungs to the body’s tissues, causing fatigue and the myriad of other problems associated with anemia.