Living with anaemia
Are there ways to prevent anaemia?
It is not advisable to try and self-treat anaemia. Medical treatment is the best way to alleviate symptoms and reduce the risk of complication occurrences. It is important that you follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations so that symptoms are reduced or kept under control, particularly if the underlying cause is chronic or an inherited condition. Where necessary, aggravators such as medications will be necessary to avoid altogether for the rest of your lifetime.
You can take steps in your daily life to help your body along and help to enhance your quality of life, especially where there is a deficiency. In this way, anaemia symptoms can be prevented. Other types of anaemia may not be avoided due to the nature of their underlying causes (i.e. an illness or disease).
Nutritional means you can be more mindful of as you manage anaemia include:
- Iron intake: Daily requirements differ between males and females. Females may require more iron due to blood loss during menstruation and the demands of pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Men may require supplements if it is found that they are unable to get the correct amount through their diet alone. Good sources of iron include beef and chicken liver, red meats (such as beef), dark turkey meat, seafood, oatmeal, fortified cereals, spinach and other dark green leafy veggies, dried fruit, beans and lentils. Tannins, chemical compounds found in tea, coffee, beer, wine, fruit juices, berries, pomegranates, nuts, smoked foods, legumes, and some herbs and spices should be limited or avoided as they can considerably inhibit the absorption of iron.
- Vitamin B-12 and folate supplements: Good sources of foods rich in vitamin B-12 include poultry, meat (especially beef liver), fish, clams, eggs and dairy products. Fortified cereal and soy products can also help to up your intake. Good sources of folate include beef liver, asparagus, lentils, spinach and dark green leafy veggies, green peas, fruits and fruit juices, kidney beans, peanuts as well as fortified cereals and breads, rice and pasta. Supplements may also be taken if diet alone isn’t sufficiently helping. Your doctor will help with prescribing a suitable dosage for your condition.
- Vitamin C: It is also good to ensure your diet is rich in vitamin C as it helps with the absorption of iron. Good sources include citrus fruits and juices, broccoli, peppers, melons, strawberries and tomatoes.
- Supplements and multivitamins: These can be recommended by your doctor should you have dietary restrictions (an allergy or eating choice such as vegetarianism or veganism) contributing to your iron and vitamin deficiency.
- Limiting alcohol consumption
Other things you can do include:
- Booking regular check-ups with your doctor
- Consider genetic counselling – especially if there is a family history of anaemic related disorders and diseases.
- Take precautions with conditions such as malaria: Anaemia can occur as a complication of malaria as well. Antimalarial medications are highly recommended if travelling to high risk areas.