Anemia: What You Should Know
Anemia is a situation in which your blood does not have sufficient healthy red blood cells. Your blood includes three types of cells.
- White blood cells are the cells that fight infections,
- platelets in the blood assure that your blood clots properly,
- and red blood cells carry oxygen to all of the cells in your body.
Red blood cells contain a protein call hemoglobin. Hemoglobin binds to red blood cells and allows them to carry that important oxygen to your body’s tissues, and to carry carbon dioxide away, which is a waste product.
If there is not enough hemoglobin in the red blood cells, anemia occurs. It can leave a person feeling chronically tired, as not enough oxygen is reaching your body cells and organs.
There are a number of types of anemia, some quite common, and some very rare. Now that you understand what anemia is? It is good to educate yourself about the most common types of anemia. You can make changes in your lifestyle to prevent anemia, or correct it.
What is Anemia?
Anemia is a general blood disorder. It affects about 3.5 million adults and teenagers. A person is recognized as anemic when there is a noticeable decrease in healthy red blood cells.
The reduction is often detected on routine blood tests. When laboratory results indicate a low blood count. Those unfamiliar with anemia may be alarmed. Then again, physicians do not provide much comfort.
Because anemia is an early warning sign of various blood disorders. Doctors rarely brush off a low blood count. Still, anemia may the result of low iron intake or genetics.
What Causes Anemia?
There are three major causes of anemia. Usual causes include blood loss, diminished production of red blood cells, or faulty red blood cells.
- Bleeding/ hemorrhaging
- Certain medical conditions
- Dietary deficiencies
- Drugs and alcohol
- Iron deficiency
Common Symptoms of Anemia
- Pale Skin
- Low Energy or Chronic Fatigue
- Shortness of Breath
- Chest Pains
- Increased Heart Rate
- Low Blood Pressure
- Abdominal Pain
- Bloody Stools
- Weight Loss
Who is at risk of developing anemia?
Traditionally, anemia and iron deficiency anemia have been associated with
- Women of menstruating age,
- People having chronic illnesses that inhibit the production of red blood cells, or destroys existing red blood cells,
- Individuals suffering from prolonged blood loss, and older people.
- Individuals who eat a vegetarian diet or consume an insufficient amount of iron in their diets, babies, and young children are at risk of developing anemia.
How is anemia diagnosed?
To diagnose anemia, your doctor will conduct a physical examination. Take note of heart rate, pale skin, or other symptoms. Your doctor may choose to conduct a blood test or blood marrow test.
What are the treatment options for anemia?
If you or your loved one has anemia. Your condition may require increasing iron, vitamin B12, and folate through the use of supplements and the increased vitamin-rich foods in your diet.
The cause of your anemia may require treatment by blood transfusion, immune system suppressing medications, and medications encouraging the production of blood cells.
Type of Anemia
When many people hear the word anemia they think low blood iron. What more people do not know is that there are many various types of anemia. This guide will help you better understand some of the various types of anemia and how they affect the body.
1. Hypovolemic Anemia
Abnormally low circulating blood volume, from hemorrhage or blood loss is the cause of this anemia. Causes may include;
- Surgical procedures,
- GI bleeding,
- Severe burns.
2. Pernicious Anemia
Pernicious Anemia is caused by the lack of the intrinsic factor usually found in gastric mucosa. The body cannot absorb vitamin B12 without the intrinsic factor.
B12 is vital to the growth of cells and the maturation of red blood cells.
3. Aplastic Anemia
Aplastic Anemia is caused by depression of bone marrow. When the body does not produce enough red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Causes can be due to congenital and acquired reasons.
4. Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron Deficiency Anemia is caused when the red blood cells contain decreased levels of hemoglobin (Hgb). Causes can include
- excessive iron loss,
- gastric or duodenal ulcers,
- inadequate dietary intake, or inadequate iron intake.
5. Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle Cell Anemia is a genetic disorder that affects African Americans. This anemia happens with the red blood cells are crescent-shaped and unable to hold as much oxygen. Sickled cells will clump together causing ischemia and hypoxia of the tissue.
Polycythemia is caused when the blood has an overabundance of red blood cells causing the blood to thicken. Then the blood thickens this causes the blood not to circulate as easy. Causes can be idiopathic.
Agranulocytosis is caused through severe reduction of the granulocytes due to bone marrow depression. Causes include
- Adverse reactions to medications,
- Neoplastic diseases,
- Viral or bacterial infections,
- Chemo, and radiation.
Many times, mild symptoms can soar under your radar. Having a non-stop, the busy day may prevent you from regularly taking inventory of your health.
Pay close attention to what your body may be telling you and become educated on what your symptoms may indicate. Communicate with your doctor regularly to ensure timely diagnosis of any condition that you may have.
A timely diagnosis is essential to the development of an appropriate treatment plan and a good prognosis. Be informed, be healthy.