From the moment a baby is born, they go through changes on a daily basis. The first few years of a newborn’s life, and when they reach adolescence, are two periods where the body undergoes significant changes. It is quite common during these periods for kids to develop symptoms of anemia.
Anemia can affect people of all ages and happens when the body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells. There are many kinds of anemia. Some are caused by an insufficient amount of hemoglobin in the blood or deficiencies in minerals such as iron. Read on to discover the common signs and symptoms of anemia to look out for in children.
What Is Anemia?
Anemia is very common, affecting around 20 percent of kids in the USA. It is usually caused by a lack of red blood cells or hemoglobin, which means that not enough oxygen gets moved around the body. In some cases, the body may not be able to make enough, and some conditions may cause the level of red blood cells to decrease.
There are many different types of anemia with various causes:
- Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. Iron deficiency limits the body’s ability to create hemoglobin and red blood cells.
- Megaloblastic anemia leads to abnormally large red blood cells due to a lack of folic acid or vitamin B-12 in the blood. These cells poorly absorb vitamin B-12, which is essential for the creation of healthy red blood cells.
- Hemolytic anemia occurs when red blood cells are destroyed by infection or as a side effect of certain medicines.
- Sickle cell anemia is an inherited condition that leads to abnormally shaped red blood cells.
- Aplastic anemia is caused by a failure of the bone marrow to create blood cells.
Common Symptoms of Anemia
In some cases, your child may not display any symptoms at all. In fact, many cases of anemia only show up during routine health checks, so make sure that you attend regular child wellness exams.
There are usually a few telltale signs to look out for, and these include:
- Pale skin, cheeks, and lips
- Irritability or moody
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Rapid heartbeat or breathing
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes, dark urine)
- Cuts and wounds that take longer than normal to heal
While anemia is very common among kids, there are some risk factors that increase the chances of a child developing symptoms. These include:
- Premature birth
- Poor diet with low levels of iron and other essential vitamins
- Long-term illnesses or infections
- Family history of sickle cell anemia
Treatment for Anemia
Treatment will depend on the type of anemia and the severity of the symptoms. In many cases, prevention is the best remedy, with diet and child wellness exams being great starting points.
Attend Child Wellness Exams – In many cases, anemia is detected during routine screening, and there may be no noticeable symptoms. As it is a common issue for kids, your doctor will closely look for any signs during child wellness exams. It is vital that you regularly attend these examinations, as they can give you lots of information about your child’s overall health and development.
Diet – Your child goes through a lot of changes during their childhood, so it is essential that they have a balanced and healthy diet to give them a helping hand. Many forms of anemia are often caused by iron or mineral deficiencies linked to poor diets. Try to add iron-rich foods to their daily diets from an early age. Choices like meat, fish, beans, oatmeal, and leafy green vegetables are all great sources of iron.
Other Treatments – If your child has an inherited condition such as sickle cell anemia, your doctor will recommend ways to ensure that your child can enjoy a full and active life. Some kids may need various medicines and dietary supplements. More severe cases may even require blood transfusions.