There are so many diseases that are higher in Black women than any other ethnicity. Up to 10 percent or more of adult women under 49 years suffer from a number of health issues like heart diseases and fibroids. But there’s one issue that is being vastly overlooked and it’s sneaking up on too many Black women for us to ignore. It’s iron deficiency anemia. Hispanic-American and Black-American women have double the prevalence of anemia compared to Caucasian women. The risk for anemia in adolescent girls is about three percent. Anemia is generally mild in young women, however, and is more likely to occur with one or more of the following conditions:
- Heavy menstruation for longer than five days
- Abnormal uterine bleeding, such as from fibroids
- Pregnancy. About 20 percent of women in industrialized countries have iron deficiency during pregnancy. Multiple pregnancies and births significantly increase the risk.
Anemia develops when you don’t have enough robust, healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body. The blood cells may lack enough hemoglobin, the protein that gives blood its red color. Anemia affects one in 10 teen girls and women. It also develops in men and children and is linked to some illnesses like:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Crohn disease
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ulcerative colitis, just to name a few
Symptoms to Look For
If you’re often tired even though you’ve slept well or you lack the energy for normal activities, you may have anemia. It can be an underlying cause of memory or mood problems. Symptoms range from none to mild to life-threatening and may include:
- Numbness or coldness in hands and feet
- Low body temperature
- Restless legs syndrome
People with anemia have less oxygen in their blood, which means the heart must work harder to pump enough oxygen to their organs. Cardiac-related symptoms include arrhythmia (an abnormal heart rhythm), shortness of breath, and chest pain.
Women and people with chronic diseases have the greatest risk of anemia. When women lose blood in heavy menstrual periods, they may become anemic.
Pregnancy also causes changes in a woman’s blood volume that can result in anemia.
Chronic diseases such as kidney disease can affect the body’s ability to make red blood cells.
A diet low in iron, folate, or vitamin B12 also increases your risk. Some types of anemia are hereditary.
Cause: Low Iron Intake
A diet that’s low in iron can cause anemia. Iron from plants and supplements isn’t absorbed as well as the iron in red meat. Digestive concerns such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or even gastric bypass surgery can interfere with iron absorption. Some foods and medicines can hinder iron uptake when taken with iron-rich foods. They include: