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Anemia is a medical condition in which the red blood cell count or hemoglobin is less than normal. Haemoglobin is the main part of red blood cells and it binds oxygen. If you have few or abnormal red blood cells, or your hemoglobin is low, the cells in your body will not get enough oxygen. Anemia can last temporarily or for a long-term, and it can range from mild to severe. If you suspect you have anemia, see your doctor immediately because it can be a warning sign of a serious illness. A person who has anemia is called anemic.
Sign and symptoms of anemia: Because a low blood cell count decreases oxygen delivery to every tissue in the body, anemia can cause a variety of signs and symptoms. It can also worsen the state of any other underlying medical condition. If anemia is mild, it may not cause any symptoms. If anemia is chronic, the body may adapt and compensate for the change. In this case, there may not be any symptoms until anemia becomes more severe. Anemia signs and symptoms may vary depending on the cause of the condition. These may include fatigue, weakness, pale or yellowish skin, irregular heartbeats, breathlessness, dizziness, chest pain, cold hands and feet, and headache.
Causes of anemia: Anemia occurs when your body doesn t have enough red blood cells. This can happen if:
Your body doesn t make enough red blood cells: The bone marrow is essential for the creation of red blood cells. A number of diseases can affect the bone marrow, including leukemia, where too many abnormal white blood cells are produced. This disrupts normal production of red blood cells.
Bleeding causes you to lose red blood cells more quickly than they can be replaced: Iron deficient anemia is the most common type of anemia which often falls into this category. It is caused by a shortage of iron, which most often results due to blood loss. Blood loss can be acute and rapid or chronic. Rapid blood loss can happen at the time of surgery, childbirth, trauma, or a ruptured blood vessel.
Your body destroys red blood cells: Red blood cells have a lifespan of 120 days in the bloodstream but they can be destroyed or removed beforehand. In one type of anemia, the body s immune system mistakenly identifies its own red blood cells as a foreign substance and attacks them. Excessive red blood cell breakdown can also occur due to infections, the use of certain drugs, snake or spider venom, severe hypertension, and in the case of clotting disorders.
Treatment of anemia: The treatment of anemia varies greatly. First, the underlying cause of anemia needs to be identified and corrected. Most of the times, iron supplements will be needed to correct iron deficiency. In severe anemia, blood transfusions may be necessary. Vitamin B12 injections are necessary in some cases who are suffering from a specific type of anemia.
Prevention of anemia: Many types of anemia can t be prevented. But iron deficient anemia and vitamin deficient anemia can be avoided by having a diet that includes a variety of vitamins and nutrients, including iron, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin C.