Make sure you know the warning signs of anemia

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HARTFORD - All of us get fatigued once in a while, but being tired all the time could be a sign of something more serious. One of the causes could be anemia.

About 3.5 million people in the US have anemia, making it one of the most common blood disorders. But what exactly is it?

"Anemia is a decrease in red blood cells circulating through the blood system," said Dr. Jennifer Moncrief of Emory Healthcare. "It can become a problem because the red blood cells actually bind to oxygen."

Fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen around your body means less of the fuel that your cells and organs need to live.

Anemia can be caused by several different things, but one of the most common causes is iron or vitamin B-12 deficiency.

Another more serious cause could be internal bleeding.

"So for instance if a patient has blood loss - maybe they may come in complaining of GI bleeding," said Moncrief. "Young patients who still have menstrual cycles, they have fibroids, they can also have it. Patients who had surgery or some type of trauma can have blood loss."

The symptoms in either case are similar.

"Fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness... Concentration can be a problem," said Moncrief . "If you're resting well and your sleep is good, and you're still complaining of feeling fatigued, then you would probably want to be evaluated."

If you're concerned about anemia, make sure you see your doctor regularly.