Anemia occurs when there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to your body’s organs. As a result, it’s common to feel cold and symptoms of tiredness or weakness. There are many different types of anemia, but the most common type is iron-deficiency anemia. You can begin to ease symptoms of this type of anemia by adding iron to your diet.
What is anemia?
Anemia happens when you do not have enough red blood cells. The cells travel with iron and hemoglobin, which is a protein that helps carry oxygen through the bloodstream to your organs all through the body. When someone develops anemia, they are said to be “anemic.” Being anemic might mean that you feel more tired or cold than you usually do, or if your skin seems too pale. This is due to your organs not receiving the oxygen they need to do their jobs. Some people find out they are low in iron when they go to donate blood. click here
Are there different kinds of anemia?
There are several different types of anemia, but each of them causes the number of red blood cells in circulation to drop. Red blood cell levels are low due to one of the following reasons:
- Your body cannot make enough hemoglobin (low hemoglobin).
- Your body makes hemoglobin, but the hemoglobin doesn’t work correctly.
- Your body does not make enough red blood cells.
- Your body breaks down red blood cells too quickly.
Some types of anemia that you may have heard of include iron-deficiency anemia and sickle cell anemia.
How common is anemia?
Anemia affects more than two billion people globally, which is more than 30% of the total population. It is especially common in countries with few resources, but it also affects many people in the industrialized world. Within the U.S., it is the most common blood condition. An estimated three million Americans have the disorder.
Who is most likely to develop anemia?
Anyone can develop it, although the following groups have a higher risk:
- Women: Blood loss during monthly periods and childbirth can lead to it. This is especially true if you have heavy periods or a condition like fibroids.
- Children, ages 1 to 2: The body needs more iron during growth spurts.
- Infants: Infants may get less iron when they are weaned from breast milk or formula to solid food. Iron from solid food is not as easily taken up by the body.
- People over 65: People over 65 are more likely to have iron-poor diets and certain chronic diseases.
- People on blood thinners: These medications include drugs include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix®), warfarin (Coumadin®), heparin products, apixaban (Eliquis®), betrixaban (BevyxXa®), dabigatran (Pradaxa®), edoxaban (Savaysa®) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto®).
What are the signs and symptoms of anemia?
Several signs and symptoms occur in all types of anemia, such as fatigue, shortness of breath and feeling cold. Others include:
- Dizziness or weakness.
- Sore tongue.
- Pale skin, dry skin, or easily bruised skin.
- Unintended movement in the lower leg (restless legs syndrome).
- Fast heartbeat.
How does anemia affect the body?
it can have other affects on your body in addition to feeling tired or cold. Other signs that you might be lacking in iron include having brittle or spoon-shaped nails and possible hair loss. You might find that your sense of taste has changed, or you might experience ringing in your ears.
Different types of anemia may lead to other serious problems. People with sickle cell often have heart and lung complications.
If you have that is not treated, it could lead to an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), an enlarged heart or heart failure. You are also at greater risk of getting infections and becoming depressed.
You might have heard that iron deficiency is linked to chewing ice, which does happen. Chewing ice is a sign of pica, a condition that includes eating things that are not really food, like chalk or dirt. So pica is also a sign of iron deficiency. It is often seen in children with anemia.
How else does anemia affect children?
It is important for children to have enough iron and other nutrients in their diets to prevent anemia and the related problems with lack of attention, delayed development of motor skills and problems with learning. In older children, you need to pay more attention to signs of this during growth spurts and menstrual cycles.
How does anemia affect older adults?
In older adults, anemia might have even more impact in causing confusion or depression. Weakness may make walking more difficult. Anemia may shorten your lifespan if you are older and it is not treated.
Can anemia affect my weight?
Having enough iron may also be a factor in weight issues. Studies have found overweight people might lose weight if they address low iron in the blood. You might experience unintentional weight loss along with anemia if you have other conditions, such as cancer. People who have had weight loss surgery might become anemic due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
How does anemia affect pregnancy?
Iron deficiency during pregnancy increases the chance of complications, such as premature birth. After the birth, studies have indicated that babies born to women with low iron levels have a higher risk of low birth weight and problems with their own iron levels.
If you are pregnant, you are more likely to develop iron-deficiency lack of blood. Your unborn baby relies on you for iron and other nutrients. Many women who are pregnant take iron pills to prevent anemia. To make sure that you have enough iron for you and your baby, eat well-balanced meals that include iron-rich foods and foods that provide B12 and B9 vitamins. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for taking vitamins and adding iron to your diet.
Finding out that you have lack of blood is just the beginning. Finding the cause of the lack of blood will lead you to the best treatment. Read more: anemia
SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES
What causes anemia?
The most common cause of anemia is low levels of iron in the body. This type of lack of blood is called iron-deficiency anemia. Your body needs a certain amount of iron to make hemoglobin, the substance that moves oxygen throughout your body. However, iron-deficiency lack of blood is just one type. Other types are caused by:
- Diets lacking in vitamin B12, or you can’t use or absorb Vitamin B12 (like pernicious lack of blood).
- Diets lacking in folic acid, also called folate, or your body can’t use folic acid correctly (like folate-deficiency lack of blood).
- Inherited blood disorders (like sickle cell lack of blood or thalassemia).
- Conditions that cause red blood cells to break down too fast (like hemolytic lack of blood).
- Chronic conditions causing your body to not have enough hormones to create red blood cells. These include hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, advanced kidney disease, lupus and other long-term diseases.
- Blood loss related to other conditions such as ulcers, hemorrhoids or gastritis.
What causes iron-deficiency anemia?
You can get iron-deficiency anemia from:
Bleeding, either from losing a large amount of blood quickly (for instance, in a serious accident) or losing small amounts of blood over a long period of time. The body loses more iron with blood loss than it is able to replace with food. This can happen to women having heavy menstrual periods or in people who have inflammatory bowel disease.
Not getting enough iron in the diet.
Needing more iron than you did previously (for instance, during pregnancy or illness).
Some types of iron-deficiency lack of blood are called by other names related to the cause, such as anemia of chronic disease (also called anemia of inflammation) or acute blood loss anemia.
What causes types of anemia that aren’t iron-deficiency anemia?
In a strict sense, pernicious lack of blood happens when a person lacks something called intrinsic factor, which lets them absorb vitamin B12. Without vitamin B12, the body cannot develop healthy red blood cells. Other types of anemia that involve lack of B vitamins, such as B9 (folic acid), are also often lumped in as pernicious anemia. This name may refer to other conditions, including folic acid deficiency anemia and Addison’s anemia, even though there is no intrinsic factor deficiency.
This type of lack of blood can be caused by inherited or acquired diseases that cause the body to make deformed red blood cells that die off too quickly. (An acquired disease is one that you didn’t have when you were born.) If it is not genetic, hemolytic anemia can be caused by harmful substances or reactions to certain drugs.
This genetic form of anemia happens because the shape of the red blood cells is faulty. They are sickle shaped, which means that they can clog the blood vessels and cause damage. The hemoglobin does not work correctly. This type of lack of blood is most often, but not always, found in African Americans.
This is a rare blood disorder that may be inherited or acquired. In this type of lack of blood , the bone marrow does not make enough red blood cells. Diamond-Blackfan lack of blood is diagnosed within the first year of life in nearly 90% of people who have it.
This is a type of anemia in that is caused by damaged bone marrow which is unable to make enough red blood cells. It also may be congenital or acquired. Another name for aplastic lack of blood is bone marrow aplasia (failure). Some people might think of this condition as cancer, but it is not.
There is something referred to by some people as myelodysplastic lack of blood. However, myelodyplastic syndromes (MDS) refer to actual cancer and are a result of abnormal cells in the bone marrow.
This type of anemia is also rare and it is genetic. It happens because the bone marrow does not make enough red blood cells. There are physical signs of this condition, such as abnormal bone structure and abnormal skin color. About 50% of people with this condition are diagnosed by the time that they turn 10 years old.
This condition is also known as Cooley’s lack of blood and actually refers to beta thalassemia major. Thalassemias are inherited conditions in which your body does not make the right amount of hemoglobin. In addition to not making enough of these cells, the red blood cells do not live as long as they would in someone without the condition.
Vegetarian or vegan
This term refers to the idea that people who are vegetarians or vegans have a difficult time getting enough iron because they don’t eat meat, poultry or seafood. However, careful food planning makes this statement false. There are plenty of ways to get enough iron with a plant-based diet.
Your healthcare provider might also use terms for lack of blood that refer to the size of the red blood cells. These words include terms like macrocytic (larger than normal cells) or microcytic anemia (smaller than normal cells).
MANAGEMENT AND TREATMENT
How is anemia treated?
First, your healthcare provider will find out if the lack of blood is being caused by a poor diet or a more serious health problem. Then, you can be treated for both the and its cause. Iron-deficiency anemia is treated with:
- Iron supplements taken by mouth.
- Foods high in iron and foods that help your body absorb iron (like foods with Vitamin C).
- Iron given through an intravenous (IV) infusion. (This is often a choice if you have chronic kidney disease, or CKD.)
- Transfusions of red blood cells.
If your anemia is caused by internal bleeding, your provider may need to do surgery to stop it. Surgical repair has been used to cure anemia in people with the paraesophageal type of hiatal hernias, with or without ulcers (called Cameron’s ulcers).
Other types of lack of blood may require other types of treatment. For instance, genetic disorders (like beta thalassemia and sickle cell anemia) may require bone marrow transplant.
If CKD is causing your lack of blood, in addition to iron supplementation (through oral or IV means), treatment could also include injections of erythropoietin (EPO). EPO is a hormone that tells the bone marrow to make red blood cells.
Anemia is also linked to cancer in some cases — both in terms of lack of bloodbeing a symptom and in terms of cancer treatment. Both radiation and chemotherapy can cause lack of blood. It might be necessary to stall further cancer treatment until the anemia is improved by iron, blood transfusions, getting necessary B vitamins and/or getting shots of drugs to stimulate your body to produce EPO.
Is anemia fatal?
Although most types of anemia can be treated, lack of blood can still be fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 1.7 deaths per 100,000 due to lack of blood in the U.S. in 2017.
Your treatment will depend on your type of lack of blood. There are lot of causes, so there are also many treatments available.
- If you have aplastic anemia, you might need medication, blood transfusions (in which you get blood from another person), or a bone marrow transplant (in which you get a donor’s stem cells).
- If you have hemolytic lack of blood, you might need medication that will hold back your immune system. Your primary care doctor may refer you to a doctor who specializes in vascular problems.
- If it’s caused by blood loss, you might have surgery to find and fix the bleeding. If you have iron-deficiency anemia, you’ll probably need to take iron supplements and change your diet.
- Sickle cell lack of blood treatment includes painkillers, folic acid supplements, intermittent antibiotics or oxygen therapy. A drug. called hydroxyurea (Droxia, Hydrea, Siklos) is often prescribed to decrease sickle cell pain crises (complicated mechanism). The medication called voxelator (Oxbryta) whichcan help your red blood cells keep their proper shape. Crizanlizumab-tmca (Adakveo) can keep the blood cells from sticking together and blocking vessels. L-glutamine oral powder (Endari) can cut down on your trips to the hospital for pain and also guard against a condition called acute chest syndrome.
- If you have a vitamin B12 or folate deficiency, you will be prescribed supplements
- Thalassemia doesn’t usually need treatment, but if your case is severe, you might have blood transfusions, a bone marrow transplant, or surgery.
Anemia can occur in people of all ages, sexes, and ethnicities.
The following factors increase the riskTrusted Source of developing a form of the condition:
- having been born prematurely
- being between 6 months and 2 yearsTrusted Source old
- being pregnant and giving birth
- having a diet low in vitamins, minerals, and iron
- regularly taking medications that inflame the stomach lining, such as ibuprofen
- having a family history of inherited lack of blood, such as sickle cell anemia or thalassemia
- having an intestinal disorder that affects the absorption of nutrients, such as Crohn’s disease
- losing blood, due to surgery or trauma, for example
- having a chronic illness, such as AIDS, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, heart failure, or liver disease
Anemia occurs when a low number of RBCs are circulating in the body. This reduces the person’s oxygen levels and can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, pale skin, chest pain, and breathlessness.
There are over 400 types of lack of blood. Common causes are blood loss, reduced or impaired RBC production, and the destruction of RBCs.
The most common type is iron-deficiency lack of blood. It sometimes develops due to a diet lacking in nutrients, Crohn’s disease, or the use of certain medications.
A doctor can use a CBC blood test to help detect lack of blood. Treatment varies, depending on the type, but it may include iron or vitamin supplements, medications, blood transfusions, and bone marrow transplants.
However, for some people with lack of blood, dietary changes can resolve the issue.
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