Hemoglobin is a vital part of your blood cells. It is protein-based, and works its magic by binding to oxygen you breathe in. It then transports the oxygen to all the parts of your body. When you take in oxygen, it may become unstable. This creates a compound known as oxyhemoglobin.
This important compound travels throughout your body until it comes into contact with carbon dioxide. At that point, it releases its oxygen, and the O2 replaces carbon dioxide in your body. Your body needs a sufficient supple of oxygen in order to survive.
When you have low hemoglobin, it means that your body is unable to carry oxygen to its various parts in a way that is as efficient as it should be. Normal hemoglobin ranges can be monitored by blood testing, which we have listed in the table below.
Normal Hemoglobin Range Table
One-month-old baby 11 to 15 gm/dl
Children 11 to 16 gm/dl
Adult females 12 to 16 gm/dl
Pregnant women 11 to 12 gm/dl
Middle-aged women 11.5 to 14 gm/dl
Adult males 14 to 18 gm/dl
Middle-aged men 12.5 to 15 gm/dl
Low Hemoglobin Counts – Symptoms
There are numerous symptoms that serve to alert you to a low hemoglobin count. You should mention these symptoms to your physician.
General Low Hemoglobin Symptoms
The general signs of a low hemoglobin count include tiredness, fatigue, headache and dizziness. You may have difficulty in concentrating. You may experience irregular heartbeats or note that your nail beds, skin and gums are quite pale. If yours is a serious case, you may also experience chest pain, palpitations and shortness of breath.
There are additional symptoms that occur with low hemoglobin count, but they are relatively rare. They include bloody bowel movements, swelling of legs or arms, persistent heartburn, vomiting and excessive sweating.
Symptoms of this disorder in children may be severe, since low hemoglobin may lead to consequences in the long term. These symptoms include disturbed behavior patterns, poor neurological development, inability to concentrate fully, rapid heartbeat and pale skin, nail beds and gums.
What causes Low Hemoglobin Counts?
Actually, some people have low hemoglobin levels as part of their normal health picture. For other people, they can signify serious problems. You need to know what causes hemoglobin counts to fall.
- Normally Low Hemoglobin Counts
Some people have a lower hemoglobin than others. It may be normal for them. For example, pregnant women may experience low hemoglobin levels. For others, it is just how their own body works. Low counts in cases like these are not cause for alarm.
- Diseases and Conditions that affect Hemoglobin Levels
There are some conditions that lead to a lower number of red blood cells. This can contribute to low hemoglobin levels. Some of these include lead poisoning, kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver and cancer.
Anemia results when there is a lower number of red blood cells, or red blood cells in your body that are dysfunctional. It causes a lowered flow of oxygen to your organs.
Some symptoms include fast heartbeat, dizziness, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, paleness of skin and fatigue.
- Diseases and Conditions that may Destroy your Red Blood Cells
There are times when your body is unable to produce red blood cells speedily enough. Conditions that cause this problem include enlarged spleen, sickle cell anemia and vasculitis. These can all lead to destruction of red blood cells, which will quickly lead to low levels of hemoglobin.
- Disorders of the Blood
These conditions, including some forms of cancer, may lead to a low level of hemoglobin. In these cases, your bone marrow will not be producing your red blood cells speedily enough.
- Vitamin Deficiencies
Vitamins like folate and B12 aid your body in creating red blood cells. If you don’t have enough of these vitamins in your system, you may have a lower hemoglobin count.
- Deficiencies in Iron
Iron is an important part in the creation of hemoglobin. If your body is lacking in iron, you will have lower than normal hemoglobin counts. Iron deficiencies are the most common causes of anemia.
- Loss of Blood
If you lose a large amount of blood, from injuries, for example, this may lead to a low hemoglobin count. It can also serve as a warning of internal bleeding, if you are not experiencing external bleeding.
Ways to Increase your Hemoglobin Levels
The treatment for low hemoglobin depends on the cause of it. If you are anemic, iron supplements are helpful. If your vitamin levels are low, you can supplement your diet with vitamin B. Low levels due to blood loss and be brought up through blood transfusions. If your body does not produce enough red blood cells, you may be prescribed a medication that induces the formation of blood.
You can also use natural remedies to increase your body’s levels of hemoglobin. Eating some herbs, vegetables and vitamins may help. Here are some things you can do to build up your hemoglobin counts and some things you need to avoid.
Remedies for Low Hemoglobin Count
- Vegetables and Fruits
Include fruits and veggies with green colored leaves in your diet. This include tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, beans, peas and cabbage. Some of the best fruits to use include mango, kiwi, raspberries, bananas, oranges and grapefruit.
- Other Healthy Foods
Healthy diet staples can help raise your hemoglobin count. Fortified cereals, organ meats, eggs, poultry, lean meats, fish and nuts can all help.
Many herbs can perk up your hemoglobin counts. They include yellow dock root, nettle leaf, sage, thyme, basil, rosemary and fenugreek.
- Vitamin C
This vitamin will help your body to absorb iron properly. This is essential for proper production of hemoglobin. Eat foods containing vitamin C and take vitamin C supplements to help.
What to Avoid
Cutting these foods from your diet will help your hemoglobin levels:
- Foods Containing Gluten
Foods that contain wheat, like pasta or bread, can lead to problems if you have allergies to gluten. They can also affect your iron levels, which may cause low hemoglobin. Try to eat fewer foods that include gluten.
- Foods Containing Oxalic Acid
This type of acid prevents absorption and you should avoid it. The biggest food to stay away from is spinach, since it is quite high in oxalic acid.
- Foods that Block Iron
Any foods that block your body’s absorption of iron are bad. Avoid medications your physician informs you of, as well as some antacids, tea, high fiber foods, high calcium foods and coffee.
When should you See a Doctor?
Your physician is the only person who can tell for sure if your hemoglobin counts are low. If you have signs of this problem, like faster than normal heartbeat when you’re active, feeling fatigued, pale gums and skin and shortness of breath, you can consult your physician or go to the ER or urgent care facility.