Anemia - Symptoms And Causes

Written and reviewed by
MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
Hematologist, Mumbai  •  39years experience
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Hello,

This is Dr Savita Rangarajan. I am going to talk briefly about anemia. Anemia is a condition where the haemoglobin is low, haemoglobin is very important in our body because it transports oxygen to all the organs of the body and when one has low haemoglobin the body then recognizes this and has various symptoms associated with this. The symptoms include fatigue, loss of energy, palpitations and shortness of breath etc.

Now the causes of anemia which is very common indeed worldwide, almost 25% of the population could be at one given time be anaemic and in our country especially there is a lot of iron deficiency. Now anemia is not necessarily only due to iron deficiency there are multiple causes of anemia, one can actually divide anemia into one, due to loss of blood.
Secondly, due to the inability of the marrow to produce red blood cells and thirdly due to destruction of the red blood cells causing anemia. Now if you divide it into these three categories it becomes easier to investigate the cause of anemia in an individual, so as I said loss of blood causes anemia and therefore the body cannot keep up with what is required to make red blood cells, for example the cause of loss of blood due to any reason for example when women have heavy periods they lose blood every month or if we have any Gastroenterological symptoms then there is bleeding from the gut or hookworm infestations or any other infestations in children can also cause anemia or loss of blood.

Blood loss anemia as I've mentioned can give rise to iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency can also occur because of poor nutrition and not eating or poor absorption from the gut of iron, so similarly other vitamins are also required to make red blood cells and that includes folic acid and vitamin B12 for example, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anemia and that is what we call as megaloblastic anemia because the production of red cells in the marrow is compromised and there is ineffective erythropoiesis or making of red blood cells. Similarly with folic acid as well there is a deficiency that can cause anemia, both of these are nutritional; however, with B12 deficiency one can also have something that we call as pernicious anemia, now this was all about blood loss anemia or nutritional deficiencies.

I talked about when the marrow itself doesn't produce properly and that is due to a number of conditions which can be investigated for and looked for and finally, I talked about destruction of red cells. Now red cells as I told you before haemoglobin is key if there is a genetic cause in the production of haemoglobin which is not proper. For example, thalassemia or sickle cell one gets hemolytic or the red blood cells are broken down and that is called hemolytic anemia.

One can also have an immune destruction of red blood cells called autoimmune hemolytic anemia, so there are multiple reasons for anemia and of course, as I've already mentioned having low haemoglobin means that there is oxygen supply reduction to multiple organs of the body and if this happens then one can be feeling of loss of energy, fatigue, depression or memory loss, there are multiple symptoms that are associated with anemia and if the anemia or if the haemoglobin is extremely low one can also get shortness of breath and cardiac failure symptoms, so it's very essential that one gets the anemia investigated properly and perhaps need to go to a haematologist in order to get this investigated and treated properly.

So I hope you have a good time and I hope you also make yourself healthy, make sure you take care of your condition properly. If you want to know more about this condition, you are welcome to go to the lybrate website and get in touch with any doctor there or see other such videos in order to get more information.

Thank you

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