health for your
By Joseph Hanna
IT’S A COLD, dreary
winter’s morning after
the holidays, and it
takes all your strength
just to get out of bed,
but it’s not just today—
you’ve been feeling
tired and run-down for
more than a month.
is a nonspecific symptom that can occur for
any number of reasons. One common cause is
anemia. Here are a few things you should
know about it.
acid and vitamin B12 to make hemoglobin.
Those who do not get enough meat or vegetables in their diet can sometimes be low in one
or more of these three things.
What is anemia exactly, and how
does it affect the body?
Anemia is a general term that refers to
various conditions that affect red blood cells
in a way that prevents the body from getting
all the oxygen it needs, resulting in fatigue.
This occurs any time there aren’t enough red
blood cells with enough hemoglobin, a pro-tein-based component of red blood cells that
can properly hold on to oxygen. Symptoms of
the common forms of anemia include tiredness, pale skin, trouble sleeping, dizziness,
shortness of breath and fast heartbeat.
What are some common causes
of the different types of anemia?
Red blood cells can be lost when a person
has bleeding due to an undetected stomach
ulcer, hemorrhoids, childbirth, heavy menstruation or some surgical procedures. One
type of anemia is iron-deficiency anemia,
where the body doesn’t have enough iron to
make hemoglobin. The body also needs folic
If my doctor advises me to
take iron supplements, what
should I know about them?
The first thing to know is that iron is a
metal and can be toxic at doses higher than
recommended. Iron supplements come in
different salt forms that each contain a different amount of elemental (actual) iron and are
most easily taken orally as tablets. It is important that your doctor tell you how much elemental iron is being recommended so that
when you go to the pharmacy counter your
pharmacist can help you choose the right one
Often, a doctor may recommend taking
iron at a higher dose for three to six months
to get the total body levels corrected, and then
at a much lower regular dose or discontinued
altogether based on blood-test results.
Iron supplements are absorbed into the
body best on an empty stomach accompanied
by some acidic juice, such as orange juice.
Most stomach upset can be reduced by
increasing the dose slowly to the prescribed
dose and constipation can be managed by
drinking plenty of water.
The Costco Connection
Costco members will find iron supplements
in the pharmacy area, as well as a variety of
fresh, iron-rich foods throughout the store.
Where can I learn more?
In addition to whatever information your
doctor, primary physican or pharmacist can
provide, there are a number of valuable
sources on the Internet. Two good ones are:
• National Anemia Action Council,
• Keep Kids Healthy,
Joseph Hanna is a Costco Pharmacy professional services manager in Canada.
FEBRUARY 2011 ;e Costco Connection 53