What is Anemia?
Anemia is caused due to reduced red blood cells in the blood. Hemoglobin is one of the most important proteins in the red blood cells. Its main function is to carry oxygen and deliver it to all the parts of the body. In case the level of hemoglobin is less it results in anemia. Due to low hemoglobin levels the tissues, organs, etc do not get enough oxygen and result in symptoms of anemia as the body is unable to work properly. The different types of anemia are:
- Iron-deficiency anemia
- Vitamin deficiency anemia
- Aplastic anemia
- Hemolytic anemia
- Sickle cell anemia
- Anemia due to other diseases
People who have mild anemia show no symptoms. But for others, the most common iron deficiency anemia symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular or fast heartbeat
- Paleness of the skin
- Chest pain
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Trouble concentrating on things
- Inflammation of the tongue
There are telltale signs of certain forms of anemia, they are:
- Fever, skin rashes, and frequent infections are common in aplastic anemia.
- Diarrhea, smooth tongue, and irritability are frequently seen in folic acid deficiency.
- Jaundice, fever, dark urine, and pain in the abdomen is seen in hemolytic anemia.
- Fatigue, jaundice, swelling in the hands and feet is a sign of sickle cell anemia.
People with the above symptoms should get an anemia test done to get it diagnosed early.
Who is at Risk?
The following can increase the anemia risk:
- The birth of a newborn before the complete pregnancy term ends.
- Infants in the age group of 6 months to 2 years can develop anemia.
- Girls who have started menstruating after attaining puberty.
- Women who suffer excessive blood loss due to menstruation or due to menopause.
- Pregnant women or new mothers.
- People who have a diet which is low in iron, minerals, and vitamins.
- People with a family history of inherited anemia like sickle-cell anemia.
- People who take medications that irritate the stomach lining.
- People who have had an injury or surgery and lost blood.
- People suffering from an illness like heart failure, liver disease, heart failure, Crohn’s disease, or rheumatoid arthritis have signs of anemia.
Red blood cells need iron, folate, and vitamin B12 for their production and sustenance in the body. The average lifespan of these RBCs in the body is about 3 months and about 1% of it is replaced every day. If for any reason there is an increase in RBC destruction and reduction in production it causes anemia.
Causes for the decrease in RBC production:
- Imbalance in the production of preproprotein in the kidney results in reduced RBC production.
- Lack of dietary iron, folate and Vitamin B12
Causes of increased RBC destruction:
- Thalassemia and sickle cell anemia (a genetic disorder)
- Surgery, injury, trauma
- Menstruation, childbirth
- Lesions in the GI tract
- Hemolysis due to certain medications
How is Anemia Diagnosed?
Blood tests are one of the common diagnostic tests that the healthcare provider uses to check if you have anemia.
- CBC or the complete blood count test is performed to know the parameters of RBC like the number, shape, and size. It can also help in finding if there is iron and Vitamin B12 and B9 deficiency.
- Urine tests know if the patient has hemolytic anemia.
- A colonoscopy may be done to determine if there is gastrointestinal bleeding. This is done based on the severity of the symptoms.
- A biopsy is also performed in rare cases of anemia type to test the bone marrow tissue.
How is Anemia Treated?
Based on the test results, the doctor will determine if the underlying cause is a poor diet or a health issue. The anemia treatment options, in any case, will include:
- Dietary changes with more focus on foods that are rich in iron and Vitamin C.
- Prescribing iron supplements.
- Iron through IV in case of chronic kidney disease.
- RBC transfusions is an anemia medicine if iron supplements and diet does not work.
- Surgery may be recommended to stop internal bleeding to cure anemia in people with hiatal hernia.
- Bone marrow transplant for genetic disorders.
The treatment option for anemia is based on the type and cause and consulting experienced doctors to treat is recommended. Book an appointment with our experts at Cure.fit now, they are available for video consultations too!
How can Anemia be Prevented?
There are some types that can be prevented. Some of the preventive measures are:
- Eating foods like greens, lentils, beans, cereals, tofu, etc that is rich in iron.
- Consume foods that are rich in Vitamin C as it is needed for the absorption of iron.
- Avoid drinking tea and coffee in between meals as it can affect iron absorption.
- Include vitamin B12 and folic acid as supplements.