Red blood cells help carry oxygen to the tissues of your body. Anemia is a disease where you lack proper healthy red blood cells to help carry adequate oxygen to the various tissues of your body. Anemia is also referred to as low hemoglobin. If you have anemia, it makes you feel very weak and tired.
There are several types of anemia. Each form of anemia comes with its own cause. Anemia can either be temporary or long-term. Anemia can also range from mild to severe. Most cases of anemia are due to more than one cause. You should definitely visit your doctor if you have any suspicion that you have anemia. Anemia could be a warning sign of a serious illness.
There are several treatments for anemia. These depend on the cause of anemia. The treatments can be as simple as taking supplements or can be as serious as some medical procedures. By eating a healthy, balanced diet, you will be able to prevent getting anemia.
Types of Anemia
Aplastic anemia- When your body halts producing enough red blood cells, then the condition is known as Aplastic anemia. A common symptom, as well as a side effect of this type of anemia, is that it leaves you very fatigued. This fatigue makes you more prone to uncontrolled bleeding and other infections.
Iron deficiency anemia- This is quite a common type of anemia. The blood lacks enough red blood cells in this condition and hence oxygen is not carried properly throughout the body.
Sickle cell anemia- Sickle cell disease is the name given to this group of disorders. This is an inherited disorder of red blood cells. This disease is characterized by red blood cells with shapes like sickles (crescent moon-shaped). This makes it difficult for the cells to move smoothly through the blood vessels.
The other two types of anemia include Thalassemia and Vitamin deficiency Anemia.
Symptoms of Anemia
As we have discussed previously, anemia can have several causes. The signs and symptoms of anemia depend upon these various causes and the severity of the anemia. Sometimes, if your anemia is mild, you might show no symptoms at all.
A few signs and symptoms that might indicate anemia:-
Mild to severe weakness
Pale skin or yellow-tinted skin.
Irregularity of heartbeats.
Shortness of breath
Feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness
Pin in the chest
Cold feeling in the hands and feet
In the beginning, the anemia could be so mild that it is totally unnoticeable. Gradually the symptoms of anemia worsen with the condition.
Risk Factors Involved with Anemia
There are few factors that can be considered as risk factors for anemia. They are as follows:-
You should always have a balanced diet. A diet lacking in certain vitamins and minerals might push you towards anemia. If your diet is consistently low in vitamin b 12, copper, iron, and folate, the risk of developing anemia increases.
The intestine is the organ that helps with the absorption of nutrients. If you have a disorder of the intestine, the absorption of nutrients in your small intestine gets affected. Intestinal disorders. This leads to diseases such as small Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease. This increases your risk of having anemia.
As we know, menstruations in women cause the loss of a lot of red blood cells. This puts them at a greater risk of anemia than women who have already has their menopause. Men are also at a lesser risk of developing anemia due to this very reason.
During pregnancy, the intake of multivitamin is very necessary including folic acid and iron. If you do not take these during your pregnancy, you will be at a greater risk of developing anemia.
There are some chronic conditions such as cancer, kidney failure, these chronic conditions can put you at a greater risk of anemia. This is because chronic diseases like these could lead to a shortage of red blood cells.
Also, if you suffer from chronic blood loss due to conditions like ulcers or something else, this can contribute to depleting the iron store of the body. This leads to iron deficiency anemia.
Anemia can be inherited. If you have a family history of anemia, such as sickle cell anemia, then it will put you at an increased risk of having anemia.
There are also certain factors, such as certain infections, autoimmune disorders, and blood diseases that increase your risk of having anemia. If you have a history of these, then you might have a risk of getting anemia. Other factors also include exposure to toxic chemicals, alcoholism, and the use of certain medications. These might affect your red blood cells.
Last but not the least, as with all diseases, old age puts people at an increased risk of getting anemia.
How to Diagnose Anemia
If you are about to undergo a diagnosis for anemia, then you would be asked several questions about your medical and family history by your doctor. Then a physical examination would be performed on you. Once done, the following tests would be run on you by the doctors:-
Complete blood count (CBC)- As we have discussed before, anemia is a blood disease. The count of red blood cells is really necessary. This test is performed to get a complete count on the number of red blood cells in your body. Knowing the number of red blood cells in your body is extremely essential for the doctor to determine whether you are suffering from anemia.
A test is also done to determine the shape and size of your red blood cells. Through this test, it is determined whether your red blood cells are of normal shapes and sizes.
Sometimes additional tests are done with bone marrow to determine if you have anemia.
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