BUT. I WILL tell you about my most recent health experience and how I could have prevented it if I had known a few basic facts. I wrote here about feeling poorly. I chalked everything I was feeling to this lingering cold that I simply couldn't shake. Including the tight feeling in my chest that didn't seem to correlate to my cold, but what else could be causing it? I was coughing and even though the cough didn't seem to relate to my lungs feeling so tight, I just assumed (bad sign right there) that the two were related. However, things just weren't adding up for me health-wise. When I shared with a friend about my anemia suspicions she stated that running is big culprit for anemia in endurance athletes.
Wait. What? No WAY, I thought to myself. I would have seen that, read that or just generally KNOW that since I am always borderline anemic anyway. It couldn't be possible. Now my mad science research skills come into play. I immediately start looking up scholarly articles that discuss anemia and running. Guess what? She was right. But don't take my word for it (I certainly wouldn't) the article is here. This is an article published by the National Institutes of Health, so I feel confident in the information being research based and peer reviewed.
But, as shocking as that was, I was more shocked when I read an article on the Mayo Clinic's website regarding anemia. Whenever I have a health question, I go to the Mayo Clinic's resource library. They give good, solid, documented information without the fear mongering I see on other medical information sites. Another good resource for medical facts and information is MedlinePlus. As I read the Mayo Clinic's list of symptoms of severe anemia - I had all of them. In fact, if I had to bet, if I had my iron levels tested any time in the past few weeks or months, my physician would most likely have been alarmed.
Image from: http://gassama.myweb.uga.edu/
To be clear, I wasn't choosing to ignore my symptoms, I just simply didn't know that my decision to engage in endurance sports, on top of being in a physically demanding career was going to increase my risk of anemia dramatically. Considering my natural tendency to be anemic, I have most likely been anemic for the last 6 months or more. I have started the high potency iron supplements and I can already feel a difference. I have experienced this kind of turn around before when I was anemic and started on iron supplements. Already the tightness in my chest is significantly decreased. My energy levels are higher. Iron levels are something that take a while to bounce back, so I can only imagine how I am going to be feeling next week. I am excited that I have my energy back and have more to give to my classes. If they thought I was energetic before....they haven't seen anything yet!!
Here is my Public Service Announcement: if you are engaging in endurance sports - particularly those that involve running, get your iron levels checked if you start to experience ANY of the symptoms listed on the Mayo Clinic page. ESPECIALLY if you have a tendency to have low blood iron levels naturally. Please don't wait until it gets to a scary level - I can tell you it is no fun. I don't even want to think about the consequences if I hadn't figured this out now. They are scary.