Ali Fedotowsky-Manno was recently diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia. In her Instagram Stories on Sunday, the former Bachelorette star shared she is dealing with the condition, in which the body lacks enough healthy red blood cells due to low iron levels.
“I almost did not tell you guys this because, honestly, it feels like and has been one thing after another,” Fedotowsky-Manno said at the beginning of her health update. “But I feel like I have to, because everyone’s going to be like, ‘Why are you tired all the time?’” she continued, referencing a notable symptom of anemia that she has been experiencing lately.
“So I ended up going to the doctor. I got a bunch of blood work done, testing everything under the sun,” Fedotowsky-Manno said. “After getting all this blood work done, it turns out I am super anemic, which I didn’t know.”
The 36-year-old explained that a blood panel revealed severely low levels of ferritin, which is a protein that helps store iron in the body and typically signifies inadequate levels of stored iron when low, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fedotowsky-Manno said her ferritin levels were “basically zero.”
Fedotowsky-Manno said that her extremely low ferritin and iron levels could explain the recent fatigue she’s experienced. “My doctor’s like, ‘Um, no wonder you’re exhausted all the time. Like, I’m surprised you’re out and about,'” Fedotowsky-Manno said.
She told followers she is now on a treatment regimen involving intensive iron supplementation in both pill and intravenous (IV) form. “I’m taking it three times a day,” she said. “And I’m going and getting, this week, an iron IV, where they’re actually going to hook me up to an IV and fill my system with iron. So I’m excited about that. But anyway, that’s what’s going on with me.”
Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common form of anemia, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. In anemia, the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells, which transport oxygen to tissues throughout the body. Iron-deficiency anemia occurs when iron levels in the body are too low to produce an adequate amount of hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that helps them carry oxygen, the Mayo Clinic explains.
Low iron levels can happen when someone is not getting enough iron in their diet. This is common in people who are vegetarians or vegans, since meat, seafood, and poultry are the best sources of iron, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at the National Institutes of Health. (In 2020, Fedotowsky-Manno told Women’s Health that she had been vegetarian for eight years.) Good non-meat sources of iron include lentils, beans, spinach, nuts, tofu, and fortified foods, like breakfast cereal or bread, according to the ODS.
Iron-deficiency anemia can also happen when you eat enough iron, but your body is unable to effectively absorb it due to a medical condition such as celiac or Crohn’s disease, the U.S. National Library of Medicine explains. Or, low levels may occur when the body requires more iron than usual (such as during pregnancy or breastfeeding), or is losing more blood than usual (often due to a health issue like heavy periods, peptic ulcer disease, or colon cancer).
Symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia may not develop until the deficiency becomes severe. They commonly include severe fatigue and weakness, per the Mayo Clinic, as well as pale skin, chest pain, headache, and cold hands and feet. If a doctor suspects anemia, they can give you a blood test looking for low levels of ferritin, hemoglobin, or red blood cells, the Mayo Clinic explains.
Treatment may include adding more iron-rich foods to your diet, taking iron supplements, and, sometimes, receiving iron injections or IVs, the U.S. National Library of Medicine says (as well as treating any underlying medical conditions triggering the anemia). While red blood cell levels may start to return to normal within about six weeks, iron supplementation for another six to 12 months will help replenish the body’s iron stores.