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9 Health Symptoms Moms Shouldn’t Ignore

Shortness Of Breath

Shortness of breath, especially if accompanied by fatigue, pale skin and nails, dizziness, problems concentrating, or difficulty exercising for more than a few minutes -- these could be signs of anemia. That means you've run through the iron stores in your body and there's not enough for the red blood cells, which carry oxygen to every cell in the body.

You can become anemic if you lose a lot of blood each month through heavy periods, if your diet is low in iron, or both. (Normal blood loss during childbirth may also contribute.) If the problem is due to heavy periods, birth control pills may help.

Your diet may be low in iron if it's short on red meat, iron-fortified cereals, beans, or dark greens -- and you're not taking a multivitamin with iron. A blood test can detect if you're anemic -- or iron-deficient, which increases your anemia risk. If so, your doctor will probably prescribe a high-dose iron supplement.

7 smart ways to prepare for your doctor visit

1. Keep a diary of symptoms you want to discuss, noting when they occur and relevant details -- such as what you ate or drank beforehand, where you were, and what you were doing.

2. Write down questions so that you won't forget them.

3. Know your family medical history -- especially if your parents or siblings had heart disease or cancer. Make notes of your own medical history: the start date of your most recent period, dates of your most recent checkups, pelvic exams, etc.

4. Bring with you any medication (including nonprescription medications and herbal or dietary supplements) that you take regularly, as well as files of exams by other doctors or test results you want to discuss. If you've gotten information from the web or a magazine, bring along a hard copy.

5. Confess your worst fear. If you're really worried that your lower-back pain is a sign of ovarian cancer, come out and say it. The doctor may be willing to do some tests to look into your concerns or be able to quell your fears in other ways.

6. Be honest and answer your doctor's questions fully. Try not to be embarrassed, even if the symptom is personal.

7. Take notes, and ask if it's best to pose follow-up questions via e-mail, a call to the nurse or doctor, or in another visit. Inquire about learning more: Is there a good book or website that the doctor can recommend?

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