Living With and Managing Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Author: NHLBI

SUSAN: I think I had been anemic for a very long time. I was working full time and in graduate school full time, so of course I'm tired. I thought my lifestyle was causing this, and I did not think there was an underlying medical condition. I work very hard and really love my job. I love to travel and do that as much as I can.

I try and take full advantage of this great city that I live in. I've got a nice dog named Abbot. It's great to have a dog, especially in the city. It gets you out walking. Before diagnosis, I was just abundantly tired. My skin was not good. I did have a couple of spells where I found that I was dizzy.

And I actually was also pretty sad and depressed. I was chewing ice like it was going out of style. My dentist was the one that identified that that could be an indication of anemia. I was at the doctor's office, and the doctor was so highly concerned about the quality of my blood at the time, they thought that I must have been on disability.

For them to say, "We are surprised that you can get up and work every day," I think that was the first time that I thought, "Oh, maybe I don't have to be so tired. "Maybe I can feel better on a day-to-day basis. And it seems something certainly very manageable." I started to get counseling on what to do to better improve my overall wellness, particularly focused on anemia. It takes a long time for the body to absorb iron. I do take an iron supplement, along with a multivitamin. I try and take them with vitamin C, which helps to absorb it into the system. So the supplement is great, but it's more the lifestyle that really helps to improve the anemia. I improved my diet -- and it had always been pretty rich with good foods -- but really focused on green leafy vegetables, red meat, nuts, dried fruits, beans -- things that added iron to my diet.

Living With and Managing Iron-Deficiency Anemia

I eat a lot of spinach -- I feel like Popeye sometimes -- and I just really work it into lots and lots of dishes. We also talked about improving my sleep, making sure I was giving myself the time to sleep every night. Exercise -- all of those things further help this condition. [ Whistles ] Abbot. Most of the changes are very simple. I had already almost immediately started to feel better. My blood counts continued to improve, but I was still very anemic. And my gynecologist finally recommended that a way for me to improve this, and at the stage in my life, recommended that I stop my periods.

I had a minor surgical procedure, and with that, I have seen that next level of improvement in the quality of my blood, and I certainly feel the benefits from that. This is a long-term cure that it's something that I just embrace every day about making smart decisions. And I'm so pleased to see that each time I'm tested, it gets better and better. I have anemia, but I've taken control of it, and I feel better every day.

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