Anemia is a condition characterized by a deficient supply of red blood cells or hemoglobin, and can significantly impact your everyday life. Red blood cells carry oxygen and other nutrients to tissues, and contain most of the iron content in the body. Hemoglobin within red blood cells binds with oxygen to facilitate its distribution. Someone with anemia—and in more serious cases, severe anemia—lacks an ample amount of healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin, and thus, does not receive enough oxygen to their body cells. They will likely feel extremely tired on a regular basis, for what seems like no apparent reason.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 146,000 emergency room visits in the United States resulting in anemia diagnoses in 2013, the most recent year these statistics are available. Left unchecked, the condition can be fatal. The CDC states there were 5,219 deaths associated with anemia in 2014.
Here are 10 severe anemia symptoms to watch out for:
- Severe Exhaustion
- Chest Pain
- Pallor (Pale Skin)
- Mood Changes
- Heart Palpitations/Heart Attack
- Difficulty Breathing
If you think you may have severe anemia, it is essential that you call your physician, go to the emergency room for evaluation, or call 911 to get help.
One treatment that may help those with severe anemia could be hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). In fact, a 2016 report published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery titled "An Update on the Appropriate Role for Hyperbaric Oxygen: Indications and Evidence," and shared by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, states:
“HBOT has proved life sustaining to patients with exceptional blood loss anemia who refuse transfusion.”
HBOT utilizes highly pressurized oxygen to increase supplies of this essential element in the blood, and could improve blood flow and circulation, boost cellular function, and promote blood vessel growth. In fact, at 3 ATA (atmosphere's absolute), HBOT can saturate so much oxygen into the body that red blood cells are not even needed!
HBOT could be a beneficial treatment for those with severe anemia, though most likely patients will need to receive the care in a hospital setting due to the condition's related risks and complications.