Iron-deficiency anemia, a condition that affects red blood cells, can be easily tested and diagnosed, a US physician said Thursday.
A blood sample is taken and sent to a laboratory for examination of the red blood cells, which appear small and pale under a microscope, said the doctor, Taing Tek Hong, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”
Four different tests can be used, he said, one that measures a percentage of red cells in the blood, one to learn the amount of iron stored in the body, one that shows total iron in the blood, and one that examines the protein that carries iron in the blood.
Symptoms of anemia include jaundice, brittle nails, very pale whites of eyes, fatigue, headache, pale skin color, sore tongue and fatigue. Some people with the illness like eating ice, he said.
Foods that provide iron include chicken, red meat, fish, seafood, soybeans, kidney and pinto beans, watercress, spinach and other greens, prunes, raisins and oranges, he said.
A person with anemia should avoid tea, coffee or milk with meals as they interfere with the absorption of iron.
There are other blood conditions to be aware of, he said.
One is hemoglobin E, a common blood abnormality that occurs in as many as a quarter of Southeast Asians, especially in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.
The abnormality is an inherited condition, but most people who have it show no symptoms of it and are usually healthy, the doctor said. It can also occur alongside another condition, thalassemia, a genetic condition that hurts the production of hemoglobin.
Many families may carry thalassemia unknowingly, as it produces no symptoms. However, in some cases where both parents pass the genes on to their children, major illness can occur.