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Early Symptoms of Anemia and How to Overcome Them

Anemia or what lay people call ‘lack of blood’ is a condition in which a person does not have enough red blood cells to deliver oxygen to various tissues in the body.

Based on the results of the Basic Health Research Report (Riskesdas), the prevalence of anemia has increased from 21.7 percent (2013) to 23.7 percent (2018) of the total population in Indonesia. In addition, in 2018, it is known that 3 out of 10 Indonesian teenagers suffer from anemia.

Early Symptoms of Anemia
Early Symptoms of Anemia

The most common cause of anemia is iron deficiency. This condition is commonly called iron deficiency anemia (ADB). ADB accounted for 62.6 percent of the total cases of anemia in 2013 globally.

“One in 6 women is likely to suffer from iron deficiency anemia,” said Chairman of the Indonesian Association of Hematology and Blood Transfusion (PHTDI) Dr. dr. TB. Djumhana Atmakusuma, SpPD-KHOM at the press conference Commemoration of World Iron Deficiency Day 2022 & Launch of Anemia Meter on Wednesday (30/11/2022).

ADB can attack anyone. Nonetheless, vulnerable populations such as the elderly and children are at higher risk. In addition, body conditions such as pregnancy, bleeding, excessive menstruation, hemorrhoids, and gastritis can also cause the body to experience iron deficiency and if left untreated it can become iron deficiency anemia.

To prevent this, watch your iron intake. Fulfillment of iron needs can be obtained from the food consumed and additional supplements. In addition, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia.

Anemia Symptoms and Signs

Djumhana said that in people with iron deficiency anemia there are several visible symptoms. Namely:

  • Pale
  • Brittle nails
  • Chapped lips and canker sores
  • Hair loss

“Canker sores and hair loss usually occur in patients with autoimmune hemolytic anemia, especially lupus,” said Djumhana.

Meanwhile, symptoms that can be felt include fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, cold hands and feet, difficulty sleeping, and susceptibility to infection.

“It’s hard to concentrate because there’s not enough oxygen, so we can’t think, okay. Then you get dizzy too because you don’t have enough oxygen. You feel cold, tired, have trouble sleeping, everything is there because the tissue oxygenation is reduced because there’s not enough oxygen.”

Meanwhile, the impacts that arise if ADB is not handled include:

  1. In infants and children
  • Reducing child growth
  • Lowering the function of the immune system
  • Decreased cognitive performance
  1. In pregnant women
  • -Increases the risk of premature birth
  • -Increases the risk of babies born with low birth weight
  1. In productive adults
  • Reduces physical and work productivity in adults
  1. In the elderly
  • -Decreased cognitive function
  • -Increases the risk of morbidity and mortality


It is important to ensure that the body is not deficient in iron so as not to get ADB. However, excess iron is also not good for the body.

There are 2 types of iron, namely Ferro (Fe2+) and Ferri (Fe3+). Djumhana revealed that what was circulating in the blood was Ferro. Once it enters the body, ferro will turn into ferri. Meanwhile, if not changed can be toxic.

Iron is something that is needed by humans in all the cells of our body, both red blood cells and so on. However, under certain conditions this iron can be a double-edged sword, it can be sharp and can damage the body if it is excess.”

Excess levels of iron in the body (iron overload) is called thalassemia.

This can cause iron toxicity to the heart, liver, pancreas, so the medicine is not an iron preparation but a drug used to reduce iron. Therefore, it is important to ensure that iron levels in the body are balanced no excess and no deficiency.

Red Blood Cell Production

Apart from paying attention to iron intake, there are other nutrients that are also important in the production of red blood cells.

“The production of red blood cells in the bone marrow is not solely iron,” said Djumhana.

Iron is important, but there are other vitamins and minerals that are also needed for the formation of healthy red blood, namely:

  1. Folic acid

It can help in the maturation process of red blood cells. Blood tablets also contain folic acid.

  1. Vitamin C

Antioxidant and cofactor for enzymes involved in metabolism and immunity.

  1. Vitamin B12

Facilitates the formation of healthy red blood cells.

  1. Vitamin B6

Helps produce hemoglobin

  1. Copper

Supports iron metabolism

  1. Manganese

Maintains cell processes involved in blood homeostasis. “So that if we later meet with iron deficiency, then we will see if there are other deficiencies, whether there is B12 too, is there B6, is there copper, is there manganese. Because if it is lacking, it is useless,” said Djumhana. “So, the iron and other things must be assessed as well.”

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