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Anemia: Symptoms, causes, management and treatment

Anemia occurs when there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body's organs. As a result, you often feel cold and have symptoms of fatigue or weakness. deficiency anemia iron . You can start to ease the symptoms of this type of anemia by adding iron to your diet. 

What is anemia?

Anemia occurs when you don't have enough red blood cells. Cells transport iron and hemoglobin, which is a protein that helps carry oxygen through the bloodstream to the body's organs. When someone develops anemia, they are said to be "anemic". Anemia can mean you feel tired or colder than usual, or if your skin seems too pale. This is because your organs are not getting the oxygen they need to do their jobs. Some people discover they are iron deficient when they donate blood.

Are there different types of anemia?

There are several different types of anemia, but each causes the number of red blood cells in the circulation to drop. Low red blood cell levels due to one of the following reasons:

  • Your body cannot make enough hemoglobin (low hemoglobin).
  • Your body makes hemoglobin, but hemoglobin doesn't work correctly.
  • Your body doesn't make enough red blood cells.
  • Your body breaks down red blood cells too quickly.

What is Anemia ?

Some types of anemia 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, 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. In the United States, anemia is the most common blood condition. An estimated three million Americans have this disorder. 

Anemia: Symptoms, causes, management and treatment
Anemia: Symptoms, causes, management and treatment


Who is most likely to develop anemia?

Anyone can develop anemia, although the following groups are at higher risk: 

  • Women: Blood loss during menstruation and childbirth can lead to anemia. 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.
  • Newborns: Newborns may get less iron when they are weaned from breast milk or formula to solid foods. The body does not easily absorb iron from solid foods.
  • People over 65: People over 65 are more likely to have a diet low in iron and have certain chronic diseases.
  • People taking blood thinners: These include medicines including 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?

Some signs and symptoms occur with all forms of anemia, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and feeling cold. Others include:

  • Dizziness or weakness.
  • Headache.
  • Tongue pain.
  • Pale skin, dry skin, or skin that bruises easily.
  • Involuntary movement of the lower leg (restless leg syndrome).
  • Heart beats fast.

How does anemia affect the body?

Anemia can have other effects on your body besides feeling tired or cold. Other signs that you may be iron deficient include brittle or spoon-shaped nails and possibly hair loss . You may notice that your taste buds have changed or you may have ringing in your ears.

Different types of anemia can lead to other serious problems. People with sickle cell anemia often have heart and lung complications.

If you have anemia without treatment, it can lead to arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), enlarged heart or heart failure . You are also more likely to get infections and become depressed .

You may have heard that iron deficiency is associated with rock chewing, which happens. Chewing ice is a sign of pica, a condition that involves eating things that aren't actually 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 get enough iron and other nutrients in their diet to prevent anemia and related problems such as attention deficits, developmental delays in motor skills, and other problems. learning topic. In older children, you need to pay more attention to the signs of anemia during the growth spurt and the menstrual cycle.

How does anemia affect older people?

In older adults, anemia may even have an even greater impact on causing confusion or depression. Weakness can make walking more difficult. Anemia can shorten your life if you are older and it is not treated. 

Can anemia affect my weight?

Getting enough iron can also be a factor in weight problems. Studies have found that overweight can lose weight if they address low iron levels in their blood. You may experience unintentional weight loss along with anemia if you have other conditions, such as cancer . People who have had weight loss surgery may develop anemia due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

How does anemia affect pregnancy?

Iron deficiency during pregnancy increases the risk of complications, such as premature birth. After birth, studies have shown that babies born to women with low iron levels have a higher risk of having a baby with low birth weight and problems with their own iron levels.

If you're pregnant, you're more likely to develop iron-deficiency anemia. Your baby relies on you for iron and other nutrients. Many pregnant women take iron pills to prevent anemia. To make sure you're getting enough iron for you and your baby, eat well-balanced meals that include iron-rich foods and foods that provide vitamins B12 and B9. provider's instructions healthcare for adding vitamins and iron to your diet.

Finding out that you have anemia is just the beginning. Finding out the cause of your ischemia will help you get the best treatment.


What causes anemia?

The most common cause of anemia is low iron levels in the body. This type of anemia is called iron deficiency anemia . Your body needs a certain amount of iron to make hemoglobin, the substance that moves oxygen throughout the body. However, iron deficiency anemia is just one type. Other types are caused by:

  • Your diet is deficient in vitamin B12, or you are unable to use or absorb Vitamin B12 (such as pernicious anemia).
  • The diet is deficient in folic acid, also known as folate, or your body cannot use folic acid correctly (such as with folate deficiency anemia).
  • Hereditary blood disorders (such as sickle cell anemia or thalassemia).
  • Conditions that cause red blood cells to break down too quickly (such as hemolytic anemia).
  • The chronic condition causes your body to not have enough hormones to make red blood cells. These include hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, advanced kidney disease, lupus, and other long-term illnesses.
  • Blood loss associated with other conditions such as ulcers, hemorrhoids, or gastritis.

What causes iron deficiency anemia?

You can develop iron-deficiency anemia due to:

  • Bleeding, which can result from losing large amounts of blood quickly (for example, in a serious accident) or losing a small amount of blood over a long period of time. The body loses more iron from blood loss than it can replace with food. This can happen to women with heavy periods or those with inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Not getting enough iron in the diet.
  • Need more iron than before (for example, during pregnancy or illness).

Some forms of iron deficiency anemia are known by other names related to the cause, such as anemia of chronic disease (also called inflammatory anemia) or anemia of acute blood loss.

What causes other types of anemia that are not iron-deficiency anemia?

Pernicious anemia

In a strict sense, pernicious anemia occurs when a person lacks something called intrinsic factor, which allows them to absorb vitamin B12. Without vitamin B12, the body cannot develop healthy red blood cells. Other types of anemia associated with a lack of B vitamins, such as B9 (folic acid), are also often grouped together as pernicious anemia. The name may refer to other conditions, including folic acid deficiency anemia and Addison's anemia, although no intrinsic factor deficiency is present.

Hemolytic anemia, anemia

This type of anemia can be caused by inherited or acquired diseases that cause the body to make deformed and dead red blood cells too quickly. (A acquired disease is one you didn't have at birth.) If it's not a genetic disease, hemolytic anemia can be caused by toxic substances or a reaction to certain medications.

Sickle cell anemia

This inherited form of anemia occurs because of a faulty shape of red blood cells. They are crescent-shaped, which means they can clog blood vessels and cause damage. Hemoglobin does not work correctly. This type of anemia is most commonly, but not always, found in African Americans. 

Diamond-Blackfan anemia

This is a rare blood disorder that can be inherited or acquired. In this type of anemia, the bone marrow does not make enough red blood cells. Diamond-Blackfan anemia is diagnosed within the first year of life in nearly 90% of people with the condition.

Non-regenerative anemia

This is a form of anemia where the damaged bone marrow cannot make enough red blood cells. It can also be congenital or acquired. Another name for aplastic anemia is bone marrow aplasia (insufficiency). Some people may think of this condition as cancerous, but it is not.

There is what some people call trophoblastic anemia. However, myeloproliferative syndrome (MDS) refers to cancer and is the result of abnormal cells in the bone marrow.

Fanconi anemia

This type of anemia is also very rare and it is hereditary. It occurs because the bone marrow does not make enough red blood cells. There are physical signs of the condition, such as abnormal bone structure and abnormal skin color. About 50% of people with this condition are diagnosed by the time they turn 10 years old.

Mediterranean Anemia

This condition is also known as Cooley's anemia and actually refers to beta thalassemia major. Thalassemias are genetic conditions in which your body does not make enough hemoglobin. In addition to not making enough of these cells, red blood cells don't live as long as people without the condition.

Anemic vegetarians or vegans

This term refers to the idea that it's hard for vegetarians or vegans to get enough iron because they don't eat meat, poultry, or seafood. However, careful food planning makes this statement false. There are many ways to get enough iron with a plant-based diet.

Your healthcare provider may also use terms for anemia to refer to the size of red blood cells. These words include terms such as macrocytic anemia (larger than normal cells) or microcytic anemia (smaller than normal cells).


How is anemia diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider can perform blood tests to see if you have anemia. The primary test is a complete blood count, also known as a CBC. The CBC can tell you how many red blood cells you have, their size, and their shape. The blood test can also tell you whether you are deficient in vitamins B12 and B9 and how much iron your body has stored.

The type and amount of blood and other tests will depend on the type of anemia your provider thinks you have.

  • Blood and urine tests can tell if you have hemolytic anemia.
  • Colonoscopy or fecal occult blood tests may be recommended to look for gastrointestinal .
  • Your provider may order a bone marrow biopsy (removal of bone marrow tissue) in rare cases.

The type of anemia and its cause will allow your healthcare provider to determine the right type of treatment.


How is anemia treated?

Your healthcare provider will first find out if the anemia is caused by a poor diet or a more serious health problem. You can then be treated for both the anemia and its cause. Iron deficiency anemia is treated with:

  • Oral iron supplementation.
  • Foods rich in iron and foods that help the body absorb iron (like foods with Vitamin C ).
  • Iron is given through an intravenous (IV) infusion. (This is usually the choice if you have chronic kidney disease or CKD.)
  • Transfusion of red blood cells.

If your anemia is caused by internal bleeding, your provider may need surgery to stop it. Surgical repair has been used to cure anemia in people with this type of esophageal hernia, with or without ulcers (known as Cameron ulcers).

Other types of anemia may require other types of treatment. For example, genetic disorders (such as beta thalassemia and sickle cell anemia) may require a bone marrow transplant.

If CKD is causing your anemia, in addition to iron supplements (either by mouth or IV), treatment may also include injections of erythropoietin (EPO). EPO is a hormone that tells the bone marrow to make red blood cells.

Anemia has also been linked to cancer in some cases – both in terms of anemia as a symptom and in cancer treatment. Both radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause anemia. It may be necessary to stop further cancer treatment until the anemia improves with iron supplements, blood transfusions, necessary vitamin B supplements, and/or injections to stimulate the body's production of EPO. 

Is anemia fatal?

Although most types of anemia can be treated, anemia can still be fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.7 out of every 100,000 people died from anemia in the US in 2017.


How can I prevent anemia?

Some types of anemia, such as those that are inherited, cannot be prevented. However, you can prevent iron deficiency anemia, vitamin B12 deficiency, and vitamin B9 deficiency by eating well. This includes following a diet with enough foods that provide iron and these vitamins, along with food sources of vitamin C to help with absorption. Make sure you drink enough water. Some studies have shown that this helps maintain hemoglobin levels.

How to control anemia?

While some types of anemia are short-term and mild, others can last a lifetime. There are several ways to help manage anemia, including:

  • Follow a healthy diet.
  • Drink enough water to stay hydrated.
  • Exercise regularly. However, if you are weak, you should start exercising with caution. Check with your healthcare provider about safe ways to exercise.
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals that cause anemia.
  • Wash your hands often to avoid infection.
  • Take good care of your teeth and visit your dentist regularly.
  • Talk to your doctor about any symptom changes.
  • Keep track of your symptoms by writing them down.

What foods should I eat, and what foods should I avoid, if I have anemia?

With anemia, making good food choices is very important. Eating junk food means you're taking in calories without nutrients. You must also consider other medical conditions you have when making food choices.

Several things have been shown to reduce iron absorption. You should not take calcium and iron supplements at the same time. Additionally, you may want to avoid or limit the following:

  • Items that contain tannins such as coffee , tea, and some spices.
  • Milk.
  • white Chicken egg .
  • Fiber . (You won't want to eliminate all fiber, however, because taking iron supplements can cause constipation .)
  • protein Soy .

In general, you should eat foods rich in iron and foods that provide vitamins B12, B9 and C. This means that you can enjoy many foods that are good for you, whether you eat meat or not. You can get iron from plant sources like lentils, spinach, and pistachios. You can get iron from protein sources like lean beef and turkey. Whole grains and dark leafy vegetables are good sources of B vitamins. Some foods are even fortified with iron. 

fruits , berries and other vitamin C foods like peppers and tomatoes help improve iron consumption. You should get advice from your healthcare provider or possibly from a dietitian about the best ways to eat when you are anemic. Also, make sure grapefruit doesn't affect any of your medications.

It is important to be educated about what you can do to take the best care of yourself possible. It is important that you and your healthcare provider make decisions together about what is best for you. Take the opportunity to request a referral to a registered dietitian if you would like help setting up a diet to help provide iron. Make sure you ask all the questions you have so you can move forward with confidence.


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