ANEMIA RELATED TO EXERCISE
DESCRIPTIONAnemia related to exercise refers to a decreased number of circulating red blood cells, or insufficient hemoglobin in the cells, caused by 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. Appropriate health care includes doctor's diagnosis and treatment.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSDecreased performance in maximum-effort activities.
Tiredness and weakness.
Paleness, especially in the child's hands and the lining of the lower lids.
Less common signs:
Excessively rapid heartbeat with exercise.
Loss of appetite.
Signs of pronounced anemia:
CAUSESParticipation 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.
RISK FACTORSHeavy menstrual bleeding.
Rapid growth phase.
Malabsorption of iron from food.
Recent illness with bleeding, such as an ulcer, diverticulitis, colitis, hemorrhoids, or gastrointestinal tumor.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEYour child should maintain an adequate iron intake by eating a well-balanced diet or taking iron supplements.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood studies every 2 months while the child is involved in vigorous physical activity. Tests should include studies of hematocrit (See Glossary), hemoglobin, and red blood cell counts.
X-rays of the child's gastrointestinal tract.
Failure to diagnose a bleeding malignancy.
Without treatment, increasing weakness and eventual congestive heart failure.
Usually curable with iron supplements if the underlying cause can be identified and treated. Unless anemia is severe, your child may continue training and vigorous physical activity while under treatment with iron supplements for anemia.
HOME CARENone except for the child to take iron supplements.
MEDICATIONTake 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.
Note: Too much iron is dangerous. A bottle of iron tablets can poison a child. Keep iron supplements out of the reach of young children.
Your doctor may prescribe iron supplements with the following instructions for your child:
No restrictions for your child unless the exercise-induced anemia is severe. Then the child should reduce activity level slightly while undergoing treatment and continue at a slower pace until iron levels are back to normal.
DIET & FLUIDSConsult your doctor about limiting your child's milk consumption. Milk interferes with iron absorption.
Serve the child protein foods and iron-containing foods, including meat, beans, and leafy green vegetables.
Increase fiber in the child's diet to prevent constipation (a common side effect of iron supplements).
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes, when condition and sense of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of anemia.
Nausea, vomiting, severe diarrhea, or constipation occur during treatment.