Anaemic Lips? Recognising All the True Signs and Symptoms of Anaemia
Anaemia, in its various forms, impacts a significant portion of the global population. Here are some facts to shed light on the prevalence of anaemia.
- Global Reach: Anaemia, irrespective of its underlying cause, affects approximately 30% of people worldwide.
- Global Concern: Iron deficiency anaemia continues to be a substantial concern even in developed countries, with a prevalence rate ranging from 2% to 5% among adult men and postmenopausal women.
- UK Insights: In the United Kingdom, the impact of iron deficiency anaemia is noteworthy. Roughly 3% of men and 8% of women in the UK grapple with this condition.
- Healthcare Implications: The seriousness of this issue is underscored by the fact that around 57,000 emergency hospital admissions in the UK each year are directly attributed to iron deficiency anaemia. It also ranks as a primary reason for at least 10% of referrals in gastroenterology.
- Gender Dynamics: Women of childbearing age face a higher risk of iron deficiency anaemia due to iron loss through menstruation and pregnancy. In premenopausal women in the UK, the prevalence can be as high as 12%.
- Pregnancy Impact: The UK also grapples with a significant prevalence of anaemia, estimated at 23%, among pregnant women, further highlighting the wide-reaching impact of this condition.
What Is Anaemia?
Anaemia is a condition characterised by a reduced number of red blood cells or a decrease in the amount of haemoglobin in the blood, leading to reduced oxygen-carrying capacity.
What Causes Anaemia
There are several potential causes of anaemia which can be categorised into three main groups:
1. Decreased Red Blood Cell Production:
Iron deficiency is a prevalent cause of anaemia. Other causes based in nutritional shortfalls can include an insufficient intake of Vitamin B12, folic acid and other essential nutrients needed for red blood cell production.
It is important to note that you can suffer from an iron deficiency without being anaemic, though if not addressed, it will usually lead to anaemia. This may be why the terms are often used interchangeably.
Bone Marrow Disorders
Conditions such as aplastic anaemia, myelodysplastic syndromes and certain types of leukaemia can affect the bone marrow’s ability to produce enough red blood cells.
Some chronic diseases such as chronic kidney disease and chronic inflammatory conditions can interfere with red blood cell production, causing anaemia.
2. Increased Red Blood Cell Destruction (Hemolysis):
These are a group of anaemias which are characterised by the premature destruction of red blood cells. Conditions like sickle cell anaemia, thalassemia and autoimmune hemolytic anaemia fall into this category.
Certain infections can lead to the destruction of red blood cells, leading to anaemia.
3. Blood Loss
Trauma, surgery, gastrointestinal bleeding (ulcers, tumours), or heavy menstruation can result in rapid blood loss and subsequent anaemia.
Prolonged, low-level bleeding, often due to gastrointestinal conditions like ulcers, haemorrhoids or colorectal cancer can gradually lead to anaemia.
Other potential causes of anaemia include inherited disorders, medication side effects and rare genetic conditions.
Common Symptoms of Anaemia
- Fatigue and Weakness: Anaemia can lead to reduced oxygen delivery to tissues and muscles, resulting in fatigue, weakness and a general feeling of low energy.
- Pale Skin: Decreased haemoglobin levels can cause the skin to appear pale or even slightly yellowish.
- Shortness of Breath: Insufficient oxygen supply to the body’s tissues, including the lungs, can cause breathlessness, especially during physical activity or exertion.
- Rapid Heartbeat (Tachycardia): The heart may beat faster to compensate for the reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, resulting in an increased heart rate.
- Dizziness or Lightheadedness: Reduced oxygen to the brain can lead to feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness, especially when standing up quickly.
- Cold Hands and Feet: Reduced blood flow and oxygen delivery to extremities can result in cold hands and feet.
- Headache: Anaemia can cause headaches due to inadequate oxygen supply to the brain.
- Irritability and Difficulty Concentrating: Inadequate oxygen delivery to the brain can lead to difficulty concentrating, memory problems and irritability.
- Brittle Nails and Hair: Anaemia can cause the nails and hair to become brittle, weak, or even develop ridges.
- Chest Pain: Severe anaemia can strain the heart and lead to chest pain, especially in individuals with pre-existing heart conditions.
- Craving for Non-Food Items (Pica): Some people with anaemia, particularly iron deficiency anaemia, may experience unusual cravings for non-food items like ice, dirt or clay.
- Soreness of Tongue: In some cases, anaemia can cause the tongue to become swollen or sore.
It’s important to note that while these symptoms are common in anaemia, they can also be caused by other medical conditions.
If you suspect you have anaemia or are experiencing these symptoms, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. Blood tests can be carried out to determine the haemoglobin levels and identify the underlying cause of symptoms.
Blue Lips and Their Association with Anaemia:
Blue lips, also known as cyanosis, can be a concerning symptom associated with anaemia, particularly if it is severe or accompanied by other symptoms.
Blue lips or discoloured lips can occur when there is a reduced level of oxygen in the blood, leading to poor oxygenation of the tissues. There are several other potential causes for blue lips as well, which may include:
- Respiratory Conditions
- Heart Conditions
- Cold Exposure
- Raynaud’s Phenomenon
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Given the potential seriousness of blue lips, it’s important to seek medical attention if you or someone else is experiencing this symptom.
A healthcare professional will be able to assess the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment. If you notice blue lips along with other symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, confusion or extreme weakness, it could indicate a medical emergency and you should seek immediate medical assistance.
How to Treat Anaemia
The treatment of anaemia depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. It’s important to identify and address the specific cause of anaemia in order to provide effective treatment. Below are some steps you can take to improve your anaemia symptoms.
Treating Underlying Conditions:
If the anaemia is a result of an underlying medical condition such as chronic kidney disease, inflammatory disorders or bone marrow disorders, treating the primary condition can help improve anaemia.
Ensuring a well-balanced diet rich in iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid can help prevent nutritional deficiencies that lead to anaemia.
If anaemia is due to chronic bleeding, addressing the underlying cause of bleeding is crucial to prevent further blood loss.
Iron Deficiency Anaemia:
If the anaemia is due to iron deficiency, supplementation may be prescribed by a healthcare professional and it’s important that follow up with blood tests to monitor your iron levels.
At IVBoost, our expert medical team provide an IV iron infusion, ensuring fast and effective treatment and is suitable for those who have very low iron levels and need to increase quickly
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anaemia:
If anaemia is caused by a deficiency in vitamin B12, supplementation may be necessary. This can be administered through injections or oral supplements, depending on the severity of the deficiency.
The Vitamin B12 shot at IVBoost is an intramuscular injection and one of the fastest ways to boost levels of this valuable nutrient. This is a Prescription Only Medicine that can only be administered by a GMC-registered doctor. The treatment involves a blood test to establish the severity of your deficiency.
Folic Acid Supplementation:
Folic Acid Deficiency Anaemia: Anaemia caused by a deficiency in folic acid can be treated with folic acid supplements, which can be taken orally or delivered through an IV infusion.
Several vitamin infusions at IV Boost UK contain folic acid and the expert medical team can prescribe bespoke treatments to address a range of medical conditions and nutrient deficiencies.
Ultimately, the cause of your anaemia and your doctor’s diagnosis and treatment will inform you where to start on your recovery journey. Addressing your diet is essential, and IV supplementation could serve to kickstart your recovery.