Tag Archives: anemia

The Many Facets of Anemia

Anemia is a medical condition that occurs when your red blood cell (RBC) count drops too low, causing an insufficient amount of hemoglobin to be delivered to your tissues. Anemia has a variety of causes and can cause various symptoms and complications. Let’s take a closer look at some of the facts:

  • According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), anemia is the most common blood disorder, afflicting over 3 million Americans.
  • Symptoms of anemia include: weakness, dizziness, persistent headache, irregular heartbeat (such as tachycardia), chest pain, jaundice, shortness of breath, mood changes, discolored skin, cold extremities and extreme fatigue. It should be noted that many other conditions can cause similar symptoms as well.
  • There are different types of anemia such as sickle-cell anemia, malarial anemia and hemolytic, to name a few.
  • Anemia may develop if your body doesn’t make enough red blood cells (aplastic anemia), or because you bleed too much or too easily (haemophiliac), or perhaps your body is attacking its own red blood cells due to an underlying autoimmune condition such as Crohn’s.
  • An iron deficiency is a common cause of anemia as your body needs iron to produce hemoglobin (which is responsible for oxygen). Pregnancy, cancer, long-term aspirin use and heavy menstruation are all potential causes of iron-deficient anemia.
  • Vitamin deficiencies can also lead to anemia, most commonly, vitamin B12. If someone isn’t able to naturally metabolize B12 it can lead to a specific type of anemia labeled pernicious anemia. These people would likely require regular vitamin B12 shots.
  • Risk factors include: deficient diet (if your diet lacks certain important vitamins and minerals), autoimmune intestinal disorders or other types of chronic disorders, haemophilia or a similar blood disease, heavy menstruation, or family history.
  • Some kinds of anemia (primarily inherited types) can be fatal if the person loses too much blood and their red blood cell count drops dangerously low.
  • If a person’s blood test results show a hemoglobin level of less than 13.5gm/dl for a male or less than 12gm/dl for a woman a diagnosis of anemia will likely be made and steps will be taken to understand any underlying problems and help correct them.
  • Some types of anemia can be prevented through a healthy diet rich in meat and dairy (B12), citrus and veggies (sources of folate) and iron-rich foods like nuts. Several types of anemia (such as those inherited) cannot be prevented, but can be effectively treated.
  • In some cases, vitamin or iron supplements will be recommended. However, it is important to practice caution when it comes to dietary supplements. it is not advisable to just start taking a new supplement without first cross checking your medical conditions or medications with a doctor and asking his or her advice on your particular situation.
  • Treatment for anemia is dependent on the type you have. It often involves a combination of blood transfusions and case-specific medications.

We hope this article has helped you learn a little more about this common blood condition, thanks for visiting DocChat!

What Do Food Cravings Tell Us?

We’ve all had the occasional, seemingly insatiable chocolate craving, strong desire for chips, or hankering for a parent’s famous mac and cheese, but what do these strong cravings really mean?

Do Cravings Signify Deficiencies?

For decades there have been theories circulating that cravings signify chemical and nutrient deficiencies or imbalances (for example chocolate craving symbolizing a magnesium shortage) however, research backing this claim is shaky. Studies have drawn parallels between excess cravings and a lack of dietary variety, but aside from a few exceptions science has yet to prove cravings have much to do with physical deficiencies.

Most Cravings Have Emotional Roots

One theory that has been backed by scientific research is that cravings are linked to certain areas of the brain, namely the emotional center. It seems even intense pregnancy cravings may have mostly to do with emotions. People seek the ‘feel good’ chemicals and hormones released by the brain when it is stimulated by certain foods.

Sweet Cravings

Most people associate sweets with positive childhood memories of cake at birthday parties or treats as rewards for good reports or special occasions. Research shows that positive feelings associated with these treats release the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is known as one of the main ‘feel good’ chemicals, and is also associated with addiction. Being that dopamine is at play, it is no wonder our bodies can become quite dependant on sugar. People often chase this feel good sensation if they are upset or stressed and wish to quickly feel better. Similarly, chocolate contains mood-boosting polyphenols, so it is the main craving for those with hormonal imbalances (such as menstruation) because it can actually lift and help temporarily stabilize a bad mood.

Savoury Cravings

Crunchy chips or pretzels can be a go-to when you’re angry, stressed or frustrated. Lab rat studies have shown that salty snacks peak oxytocin in the rats’ brains, effectively reducing their stress and calming them. Of course this relief is only short lived, consuming too much sodium can have all kinds of negative effects on the body, but it is clear salty treats do help temporarily calm stressed bodies. Carb-rich ‘comfort foods’ have similar effects, creating short-term energy boosts which trick the body into thinking it feels better after carbo-loading (before the crash, that is).

Are There Ever Medical Reasons For Cravings?

There have been certain cravings associated with specific medical conditions, such as sufferers of undetected anemia having strong cravings for ice, or other non-nutritional or non-food items such as paper or soil (this phenomenon is called Pica). There have also been documented cases of people with persistent meat cravings being iron deficient, but this is quite rare. Those with undiagnosed diabetes often crave water and drink it in excess.

Addison’s Disease

Another medical condition that seems to be associated with cravings is Addison’s disease. Those with Addison’s disease often continuously crave salt as one of the symptoms of the condition. If your salt craving is accompanied by hypotension, fatigue and stomach issues it may be time to check in with your doctor, or one of our qualified DocChat physicians. However, before you run to the doctor for the occasional salt craving, remember cravings do not always mean you have a corresponding disorder; most often cravings are simply cravings.

What Can You Do To Curb Cravings?

  • Sweets: Go for fruit and whipped cream instead! Or some homemade rice pudding that uses stevia for sweetening. Or if you are aware why you have these sweet cravings, you can try replacing the positive sensation with another activity like creating something, going for coffee with a good friend or opting for cuddles.
  • Savory: Try air-popped popcorn, roasted chickpeas or kale chips with sea salt! If you want to combat stress without salty snacks, go for a jog or hit the gym when you’re craving salt. It’s not a guarantee, but chances are your craving will be gone when you’re done your workout.
  • Chocolate: Try a serving size of dark chocolate. It will still satiate your cocoa craving but also has heart-healthy benefits. Or you can try hot chocolate made with pure cocoa and sweetened with stevia!

For additional healthy alternatives to cravings, check out our post “10 Healthier Treats To Keep The Sugar Monkey Off Your Back

Can Low Blood Pressure Also be Troublesome?

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Today, almost every other person in your social circle complains about high blood pressure and its terrifying effects as it can cause a stroke and several other heart diseases.

Though it is not as severe as high blood pressure, low blood pressure is still alarming. Another name for low blood pressure is hypotension. While low blood pressure varies individual to individual, doctors generally consider a blood pressure reading lower than 90/60mmHg as low blood pressure.

Here are some of the problems that low blood pressure can cause:

Restricts the Amount of Blood Flowing into the Brain

Mostly, this is a result of flawed and incorrect signals from the brain. People with neurally mediated hypotension i.e. flawed brain signals, have nerves signaling to the brain that there is high blood pressure which consequently results into low amounts of blood flowing to the brain.

If dropped too low, blood pressure can prevent blood from flowing to the brain and many other vital organs of your body. As a result it can cause blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, along with fainting spells.

Cause of Severe Dehydration

Though naturally, low blood pressure is not worrisome, it can still be troublesome. This is because low blood pressure is usually caused by excessive dehydration. Low blood pressure, along with some other symptoms like fever, vomiting etc. causes your body to lose excessive amounts of water which can be a serious cause of concern.

Underlying Diseases or Nervous Systems Disorder

An abnormally low blood pressure indicates the existence of some underlying conditions or damage to the nervous system. You might be suffering from a heart condition or have nervous systems disorders like Parkinson’s disease which triggers low blood pressure. So, it is important to establish your low blood pressure level and if it is extremely low, you need to get yourself examined in case you are suffering from any underlying diseases.

Causes Your Body to Go into Shock

Since low blood pressure means that your brain, kidney and many other vital organs are not receiving the adequate amount of blood, it can cause severe problems like strokes, heart attacks and kidney failures. Heart attack can be caused when the heart is unable to supply enough blood to the various organs in the body, resulting in your body to go into cardiogenic shock.

The most severe problem low blood pressure is likely to cause is shock. This sudden and severe drop in the amount of blood pumping to vital organs means that tissues are not receiving enough oxygen which can cause death within a short amount of time.

If you suffer from low blood pressure, it is important that you speak to an expert. There is no need to worry as help is right here. Get in touch with us today and see what you should do to feel better and healthier.