Small signs always let us know of the underlying problems that lie ahead but do we pay attention? Mine stem from eating “Bbumba” (cooked clay) ,licking dust particles off windows and I also remember my uncontrollable urge to eat chalk and its particles in school.
At first my relatives told me Bbumba (which if not well cooked and sieved has small stone particles) is bad for you as it may cause appendicitis so I was advised to focus on drinking water from a pot because its flavor is just like that of the cooked clay.
So I took it upon myself to find out why my cravings are different from other Ugandans. When I visited the Doctor he confirmed my fears –I’m iron deficient.
Iron deficiency is a common health problem. High risk groups include menstruating women, pregnant and lactating women, babies and toddlers, teenage girls and female athletes. Without intervention, a person whose dietary intake of iron is inadequate to meet their body’s needs will eventually deplete their iron stores and develop iron deficiency anemia.
According to MayoClinic, Causes of iron deficiency anemia include:
Blood loss. Blood contains iron within red blood cells. So if you lose blood, you lose some iron. Women with heavy periods are at risk of iron deficiency anemia because they lose blood during menstruation. Slow, chronic blood loss within the body — such as from a peptic ulcer can cause iron deficiency anemia. Gastrointestinal bleeding can result from regular use of some over-the-counter pain relievers, especially aspirin.
A lack of iron in your diet. Your body regularly gets iron from the foods you eat. If you consume too little iron, over time your body can become iron deficient. Examples of iron-rich foods include meat, eggs, leafy green vegetables and iron-fortified foods. For proper growth and development, infants and children need iron from their diet, too.
An inability to absorb iron. Iron from food is absorbed into your bloodstream in your small intestine. An intestinal disorder, such as celiac disease, which affects your intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients from digested food, can lead to iron deficiency anemia. If part of your small intestine has been bypassed or removed surgically, that may affect your ability to absorb iron and other nutrients.
Without iron supplementation, iron deficiency anemia occurs in many pregnant women because their iron stores need to serve their own increased blood volume as well as be a source of hemoglobin for the growing fetus.
Iron deficiency anemia can be so mild that it goes unnoticed. But as the body becomes more deficient in iron and anemia worsens, the signs and symptoms intensify.
Iron deficiency anemia symptoms may include extreme fatigue, Pale skin, weakness, shortness of breath, chest pain, frequent infections, headache, dizziness or light headedness, cold hands and feet Inflammation or soreness of your tongue, brittle nails, fast heartbeat, unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances such as ice, dirt or starch, poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia and an uncomfortable tingling or crawling feeling in your legs (restless legs syndrome)
Iron deficiency anemia isn’t something to self-diagnose or treat. So see your doctor for a diagnosis rather than taking iron supplements on your own. Overloading the body with iron can be dangerous because excess iron accumulation can damage your liver and cause other complications.
What to eat when Iron Deficient.
Dr Alex Mutabazi, the in charge of quality services at AAR Health Services at Kololo told the Daily Monitor that people who have conditions such as cancer should feed on red meat because it is a good source of iron mineral. Besides meat, they should also consume high quantities of wheat, brown rice and millet, which are also high in iron minerals.
For people who are malnourished, vitamin B or iron supplements are recommended to boost the haemoglobin or iron levels in the body.
So now that I know what to eat, I’m focusing on eating the right food to and making use of the potted water. (Uglish). If you experience any of the symptoms above, kindly visit a Doctor