Anemia happens when your body does not have enough healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen to your organs. As a result, it is usual to have cold symptoms as well as exhaustion or weakness. There are numerous distinct forms of anemia, but iron deficiency anemia is the most common. You can begin to alleviate the symptoms of this form of anemia by increasing your iron intake. Anemia affects almost two billion individuals worldwide, accounting for more than 30 percent of the total population. It is more widespread in resource-constrained countries, but it also affects a large number of people in the developed world. Here we will discuss the causes, symptoms and types of anemia, also we will learn how to treat anemia.
What is anemia?
Anemia occurs when the body does not produce enough red blood cells. Iron and hemoglobin, a protein that helps to carry oxygen via the bloodstream to your organs throughout the body, are carried by the cells. When a person develops anemia, they are referred to as anemic. Being anemic may cause you to feel weary or colder than usual or your skin to appear pale. This is because your organs aren’t getting enough oxygen to conduct their functions. When some people go to donate blood, they discover they are iron deficient.
Anemia is described as a low red blood cell count. Sometimes it is also termed as iron deficiency. Anemia is diagnosed by a low hemoglobin level in a standard blood test. Hemoglobin is the primary protein found in red blood cells. It transports and distributes oxygen throughout your body. Your hemoglobin level will be low if you have anemia. If it falls below a certain level, your tissues or organs may not receive adequate oxygen. Anemia symptoms, such as exhaustion or shortness of breath, occur when your organs aren’t getting the nutrients they require to function properly.
Certain types of anemia are inherited through your genes and infants may be born with it. Anemia can get developed in any person but following groups are at great risk level.
- Because of blood loss during periods and increased blood supply needs during pregnancy, women are at risk of iron deficiency anemia.
- Children aged one to two: The body need increased iron during growth spurts.
- Infants: When infants transition from breast milk to solid food, they may receive less iron. Iron from solid food is less easily absorbed by the body.
- People over the age of 65: People over the age of 65 are more prone to have iron-deficient diets and certain chronic conditions.
- People on blood thinners, such as aspirin, clopidogrel, warfarin, heparin products, apixaban, betrixaban, dabigatran, edoxaban, and rivaroxaban.
Anemia comes in a variety of forms. Each has its own set of causes and therapies. Some types, such as the mild anemia that occurs during pregnancy, are not a big problem. However, some varieties of anemia may indicate a dangerous underlying medical issue.
What do red blood cells do?
Your body produces three types of blood cells: white blood cells to fight infection, platelets to aid in blood clotting and red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout your body.
Hemoglobin, an iron rich protein that gives blood its red hue, is found in red blood cells. Hemoglobin allows red blood cells to transport oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body and carbon dioxide from other areas of your body to your lungs for exhalation. The majority of blood cells, including red blood cells, are created on a regular basis in your bone marrow, which is a spongy material located within the cavities of many of your large bones.
Symptoms of iron deficiency
Anemia causes a variety of signs and symptoms, including exhaustion, shortness of breath and a sense of being chilly. Depending on the cause of anemia, you may not have any symptoms. If signs and symptoms do arise, they may include:
- Dizziness or weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Unintended movement in the lower leg
- Cold hands and feet
- Sore tongue
- Irregular heartbeats
- Chest pain
- Pale, dry or easily bruised skin
- A quick heartbeat
Anemia can be so faint at first that you don’t notice it. However, when anemia progresses, symptoms worsen.
Types of anemia
The terms types of anemia and causes of anemia are co-related as each type has different cause. There are numerous forms of anemia, but they all result in a decrease in the amount of red blood cells in circulation. Low red blood cell levels are caused by one of the following factors:
Your body is unable to produce enough hemoglobin.
Your body produces hemoglobin, but it does not function properly.
Your body isn’t producing enough red blood cells.
Your body degrades red blood cells far too quickly.
Iron deficiency anemia and sickle cell anemia are two examples of anemia that you may have heard about.
Causes of anemia
Different types of anemia have different causes. They include:
Anemia caused by a lack of iron. This is the most prevalent type of anemia and is caused by a lack of iron in your body. Iron is required by your bone marrow to produce hemoglobin. Your body cannot make enough hemoglobin for red blood cells if you do not consume enough iron.
A kind of anemia develops in many pregnant women who do not take iron supplements. It is also caused by blood loss, which can occur as a result of excessive menstrual bleeding, an ulcer, cancer or regular use of various over-the-counter pain medicines, particularly aspirin, which can cause stomach lining irritation, leading in blood loss.
Anemia caused by a lack of vitamins. In addition to iron, your body requires folate and vitamin B-12 to build sufficient healthy red blood cells. A diet deficient in these and other essential nutrients can lead to a decline in red blood cell formation. Furthermore, some people who take enough B-12 are unable to absorb it. Vitamin deficiency anemia, often known as pernicious anemia, can result from this.
Inflammation anemia Cancer, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, renal illness, Crohn’s disease, and other acute or chronic inflammatory conditions can all interfere with red blood cell production.
Aplastic anemia is a type of anemia. This unusual and potentially fatal anemia arises when your body does not make enough red blood cells. Infections, certain medications, autoimmune illnesses, and exposure to hazardous substances are all potential causes of aplastic anemia.
Anemia caused by bone marrow disorders: Causes of anemia include a number of disorders that impact blood production in your bone marrow, such as leukemia and myelofibrosis in this type. The symptoms of various cancers and cancer-like illnesses range from minor to life-threatening.
Hemolytic anemia is a type of anemia that occurs when red blood cells are destroyed quicker than bone marrow can replace them. Certain blood illnesses cause an increase in the death of red blood cells. A hemolytic anemia can be inherited or developed later in life.
Sickle cell disease is a type of anemia. A hemolytic anemia is an inherited and potentially fatal illness. It is caused by a faulty version of hemoglobin, which causes red blood cells to take on an aberrant crescent (sickle) shape. These irregular blood cells die prematurely, leading in a persistent red blood cell deficit.
What is the impact of anemia during pregnancy?
Pregnancy problems, such as premature birth, are increased by iron deficiency. Following the birth, studies have shown that babies born to women with low iron levels are at a higher risk of low birth weight and iron deficiency.
You are more likely to develop iron deficiency anemia if you are pregnant. Your unborn child is dependent on you for iron and other minerals. Many pregnant women use iron supplements to prevent anemia. Eat well-balanced meals that include iron-rich foods as well as foods that include B12 and B9 vitamins to ensure that you and your baby get enough iron. Follow your doctor’s advice when it comes to taking vitamins and getting enough iron in your diet.
How to treat anemia?
Anemia treatment will be determined on the basis of the type of anemia you have. Because there are numerous causes, there are numerous therapies.
- If you have aplastic anemia, you may require medication, blood transfusions (in which you receive blood from another person) or a bone marrow transplant (in which you receive stem cells from a donor).
- If you have hemolytic anemia, you may require medicine that suppresses your immune system. Your primary care physician may recommend that you see a vascular specialist.
- If anemia is caused by blood loss, you may need surgery to locate and stop the bleeding.
- If you have iron deficiency anemia, you will most likely need to take iron supplements and modify your diet.
- Pain relievers, folic acid supplements, occasional antibiotics, and oxygen therapy are all used to treat sickle cell anemia. To alleviate sickle cell pain crises, hydroxyurea is frequently administered.
- If you are deficient in vitamin B12 or folate, you will be prescribed supplements.
- Thalassemia typically does not require treatment, but if your condition is severe, you may require blood transfusions, a bone marrow transplant or surgery.
How to prevent anemia?
Many types of anemia are unpreventable. However, iron deficiency anemia and vitamin deficiency anemia can be avoided by eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals such as:
- Iron: Iron-rich foods include beef and other meats, beans, lentils, iron-fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, and dried fruit.
- Folate: This nutrient, and its synthetic form folic acid, which is found in fruits and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables, green peas, kidney beans, peanuts, and enriched grain products, such as bread, cereal, pasta and rice.
- Vitamin B-12: Foods rich in vitamin B-12 include meat, dairy products, and fortified cereal and soy products.
- Vitamin C: Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits and juices, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, melons and strawberries. These also help to increase iron absorption.