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Home :: Anemia Related To Exercise

Anemia Related To Exercise

A decreased number of circulating red blood cells, or insufficient hemoglobin in the cells, caused from participation in exercise. Anemia is also a symptom of other disorders, and may interfere with athletic performance. For proper treatment, the cause must be found.


  • Participation in exercise such as prolonged, walking, running or cross- country skiing. The forces exerted on the red blood cells in the capillaries of the feet may rupture the blood cells and lead to anemia.
  • Other heavy physical exercise and exertion.
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Malabsorption of iron from food.
  • Profuse sweating.
  • Age over 60.
  • Recent illness with bleeding, such as an ulcer, diverticulitis, colitis, hemorrhoids or gastrointestinal tumor.

Signs and symptoms

Sign of pronounced anemia:

  • Decreased performance in maximum-effort activities.
  • Tiredness and weakness.
  • Paleness, especially in the hands and lining of the lower eyelids.

Less common signs:

  • Tongue Inflammation.
  • Fainting.
  • Breathlessness.
  • Excessively rapid heartbeat with exercise.
  • Appetite loss.


  • Your own observation of symptoms.
  • Medical history and exam by a doctor.
  • Laboratory blood studies every 2 months while involved in vigorous physical activity. Test should include studies of hemoglobin (see, Glossary), hemoglobin and red-blood-cell counts.
  • X-rays of the gastrointestinal tract.


Your doctor may prescribe iron supplements:

  • Take iron on an empty stomach (at least 1/2 hour before meals) for best absorption. If it upsets your stomach, you may take it with a small amount of food (except milk).
  • If you take other medications, wait at least 2 hours after taking iron before taking them. Antacids and tetracycline especially interfere with iron absorption.
  • Continue iron supplements until 2 to 3 months after blood tests return to normal.
  • Too much iron is dangerous. A bottle of iron tablets can poison a child. Keep iron supplements out of the reach of children.
  • Maintain an adequate iron intake by eating a well-balanced diet or taking iron supplements.

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