What You Should Know About Anemia
What is Anemia?
Anemia is a condition when there is a low number of red blood cells or a low amount of hemoglobin in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein that helps carry oxygen throughout the body. Red blood cells use iron to create hemoglobin. Anemia may develop if the body does not have enough iron. It may also develop if the body does not make enough red blood cells or they die faster than the body can make them.
Due to certain diseases or conditions, red blood cells decrease in number or there is less hemoglobin due to which cells don’t get enough oxygen. As a result, our organs don’t function well the way they should. Sometimes Anemia can be a sign of a more serious condition.
The disease is very common among pregnant women and adolescent girls which results in feeling tired, weak, or fatigued, etc. There are many causes including iron-deficiency, sick cell disease, or health conditions like hypothyroidism. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common form, which counts for about 50% of anemic cases.
There are more than 400 types of anemia which are divided into 3 groups –
1. Anemia caused by loss of blood
2. Anemia caused by a decrease in red blood cell production
3. Anemia caused by the destruction of red blood cells
Although there are many causes of anemia it occurs mainly due to low hemoglobin levels. In our body bone marrow produce red blood cells and a healthy red blood cell lasts up to 90-120 days. In some conditions, due to lower levels of hemoglobin in red blood cells, cells are not able to function properly which affects the organs.
Common causes of anemia are:
- Trauma or surgery that causes massive blood loss
- Gastrointestinal bleed
- Woman's monthly period
- Family history of blood disease or anemia
- Alcohol abuse
- Lack of foods that contain iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12
- Certain medications
Signs and Symptoms
The signs of anemia are mild at first that we don’t notice usually but it gets worse if not treated. Symptoms include -
- Pain in Muscles
- Cold or pale skin
- Tiredness, weakness, or confusion
Anemia may get worse in many conditions, symptoms include:
- Blue or white color of eyes
- Brittle nails
- Lightheadedness when standup
- Abnormal bleeding in females
To diagnose anemia, your doctor will ask for symptoms, medical history and perform tests. You will be physically examined. Your diet and lifestyle play a key role in diagnosis.
Some of the tests for diagnosis are:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Vitamin B12 and folate deficiency
- Finding the cause such as diet, medicines, menstrual pattern, other medical conditions
Anemia can be treated with medications and a healthy diet. Your doctor will suggest medicines and therapies restore the red blood count. However, a healthy lifestyle is as important as medicines to recover.
- Iron or folic acid supplements help increase red blood cell and hemoglobin levels.
- Vitamin B12 injections may help boost red blood cell count and decrease symptoms.
- A blood transfusion may be needed if the body cannot replace blood loss during surgery.
- Eat healthy foods rich in iron and vitamin C.
- Nuts, meat, dark leafy green vegetables, and beans are high in iron and protein.
- Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges and other citrus fruits.
HealthCurate articles are backed by evidence curated from reliable sources and researches in India and other parts of the world. We aim to provide only reliable health and medical information. If you find anything that doesn't align to this goal, do let us know.
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