As a college female athlete trying to balance sports, school, work and a social life can be quite demanding. You need to be at the top of your game in order to get all the tasks of the day complete. When you start to feel fatigued, have trouble concentrating, and become dizzy easily, you may dismiss it as stress or that you just need to fit in more sleep. That is exactly what I said when those symptoms started occurring my sophomore year in college. Thankfully, the true condition was diagnosed before I started to deteriorate more.
According to medical sites such as WebMd, anemia is the most common blood condition in the United States and women are more likely then men to have the condition. There are several causes for anemia, a condition when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells causing the organs to not get enough of what they need to properly function.
My anemia was caused by an lack of enough iron. When the body does not get enough iron, your body cannot produce enough hemoglobin for red blood cells. The year my anemia developed, my coach had increased my mileage and I was putting in about 70 miles of running a week. I was also taking a full class load. My day started at 7:30am and ended after practice at 7pm. Eating consisted of mostly healthy, quick-fit items, such as oatmeal and peanut butter, but not enough iron rich foods such as red meats. I was constantly on the go and was exercising at a level that I was burning off more nutrients that I was putting in.
Thankfully, my anemia was caught early enough. A quick blood test will give you your iron levels and if your iron is low, iron supplements can have you feeling back to normal in a few weeks. I was prescribed to take iron pills three times a day with a glass of orange juice because the Vitamin C can help absorb more iron. I needed to take the pills for about 6 months to build up my iron stores enough for my iron levels to return to normal.
I did not want to take pills forever so the key was to find a balanced level of exercise, healthier sit-down meals that contained iron rich foods, and to pay more attention to self-care. Anemia can be a scary condition, especially if you do not know the cause of your symptoms. However, the treatment is fairly simple for iron deficiency anemia and it can cause you to reevaluate your level of self-care to make the needed changes in your life.