Awareness of Anaemia

May 19, 2016

We are so used to leading hectic lives and feeling tired that we often take these signs lightly. Not many think to have themselves checked by medical professionals, and the condition can often persist for years. Anaemia is one of the most prevalent nutritional deficiency disorders in the world. Globally, the World Health Organization estimated that over 30% of the world’s population suffers from anaemia, with the disease being most prevalent in women and young children. 

Anaemia happens when the level of red blood cells or the level of haemoglobin is lower than normal, hence a reduced amount of oxygen is being carried around in the bloodstream. Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common type of anaemia caused by insufficient iron in the body to produce haemoglobin. Many of its symptoms are ignored, not because people deny having anaemia, but because people generally do not know about it, or for that matter, know too little about it!

If you have anaemia symptoms but left unchecked, it can lead to various complications include poor pregnancy outcomes, impaired physical and cognitive development and increased risk of morbidity in children, and reduced work productivity in adults.

The symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia :
  • dizzy, lethargic or weak
  • frequent headaches
  • having a tingling or crawling feeling in the legs
  • strange cravings to eat non-food items such as dirt, ice or clay
  • cold hands and feet
  • tongue swelling or soreness
  • brittle nails and pale skin
* If left untreated, iron deficiency anaemia can lead to irregular heartbeat, and in severe cases, lead to heart failure or an enlarged heart.
Pregnancy, significant menstrual bleeding and uterine fibroids are all reasons that contribute to more women experiencing iron deficiency anaemia than men. Pregnant women are even more likely to experience iron deficiency anaemia because they require greater amounts of blood to support their growing babies. 
Hence, Merck Consumer Health Division is stepping up its efforts and leading the change in raising awareness on iron deficiency anaemia through their “Win Your Day” campaign. The campaign is set to educate Malaysians and improve lives, particularly women as they are more susceptible to be affected by iron deficiency anaemia. Through raising awareness on the issue, they believe that Malaysians will benefit from a better understanding of iron deficiency, and to take the necessary steps to begin living extraordinary lives and guide patients in taking the initiative to seek opinions from healthcare professionals. 
 Merck Medical team in Indonesia developed an Anaemia Risk Assessment Tool to helps determine whether if one is at risk of having anaemia based on simple lifestyle and dietary information provided. Available online and free to use, it leads users through a questionnaire and a visual self-assessment tool called the Conjunctival Paleness Chart. The Chart will help users to identify symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia as a person's eyes tend to be more pale than normal due to insufficient of red blood cells and haemoglobin. This can be further confirmed through a haemoglobin test administered by a professional at a clinic or hospital. 

 To improve one’s level of iron in the body, one should increase absorbable iron in her diet through the consumption of meat, fish or poultry during main meals, the most important is include Vitamin C at every meal. Also, decreasing the consumption of tea, coffee and milk during main ls helps too, as they act as inhibitors of iron absorption in food. In addition, oral iron supplements helps the body in overcoming this deficiency. 
*supplements are best absorbed by the body on an empty stomach, it should then be taken with meals. 

As in the case of Nor Amni Bt Haris, 31, and Siti Noorshella Zainal, 37, their daily duties and chores struggled prior to discovery of their ailment. Nor Amni, a career lady who often skipped meals, only found out of her ailment after being sent to the doctor by colleagues after a dizzy spell at work. A change in dietary habits, along with taking iron supplements advise by her doctor, she is now able to manage her iron levels. She highlighted that working professionals, young adults or even school students should be aware of iron deficiency anaemia as it affects their productivity at work or school. 
In conjunction with the ‘Win Your Day’ awareness campaign, Merck is organizing complimentary haemoglobin tests at selected pharmacies nationwide. 
For more information on the complimentary haemoglobin tests, and to do an initial self-check using the interactive Anaemia Risk Assessment Tool and Conjunctival Paleness Chart, visit

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