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BALTIMORE — Anemia is a hidden disease that's said to affect about 400 million women worldwide.
How do you know you're anemic, and when do you get checked out?
"I was exhausted all of the time," patient Maria Serafini said.
Serafini has her hands full with her 17-month-old son, Giuliano; Chasing after a toddler is not easy. But her exhaustion got so bad she started thinking it was something more serious.
"Sitting through training sessions, interesting training sessions for work, other people would be wide awake," Serafini said. "I would have to stand up in the back of the room to be able to stay awake. That's how prevalent it was."
- Easily fatigued, loss of energy
- Unusually rapid heart beat
- Shortness of breath and headache
- Difficulty concentrating
- Leg cramps
Serafini was told she was so anemic that she was not allowed to give blood.
Mercy Medical Center Dr. Christine Lafferman says anemia is very common in women, the elderly and those with chronic disease.
"Anemia is generally thought of as low red blood cells, and it can be caused by many different things," Lafferman said.
Lafferman said there are multiple causes, but three major reasons why someone would be anemic.
"Either they're not making enough red blood cells or they're losing their red bloods cells, or they make enough red blood cells and they don't live long enough for some reason that they're destroying them or they have some kind of low length of life span," Lafferman said.
So when should you get checked out with a simple blood test? Lafferman suggests that if you have had energy in the past and only recently lost your energy to get checked.
The treatment could be as simple as iron supplements like it was for Serafini, but you won't know until you talk to your doctor.