Anemia

Anemia

Anemia (anaemia) is a condition related to the number of red blood cells or the hemoglobin (haemoglobin) concentrations in the blood. There are several types of anemia, although the most common is Iron deficiency anemia.

Anemia is a low concentration of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is a protein found within the red blood cells (RBC) which transports oxygen throughout the body. The low levels may be due to a low concentration per RBC or may be due to a low RBC count.

There are several different forms of anemia, for example sickle cell anemia, and anemia caused by excessive blood loss, but by far the most common is iron deficiency anemia.

Symptoms of Anemia

Again these vary with the type of anemia, however some symptoms occur accross all types:

  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • Feeling weak
  • Pale skin
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Cold or numb hands and feet
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shortness of breath

What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Iron deficiency causes anemia as you need iron in the body to make hemoglobin. Someone might have low iron levels due to any of the following:

  • Blood loss
  • Heavy periods
  • Childbirth
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Ulcers
  • Colon cancer
  • Regular use of painkillers such as aspirin
  • Surgery
  • Infections
  • A low iron diet (vegetarians - meat is a high source of iron)
  • Crohns disease
  • Celiac (coeliac) disease

Treatment

The treatment of anemia depends on the type of anemia. The aim of treatment is to increased the RBC count and hemoglobin concentration in the blood and the treat any underlying causes of the condition.

In iron deficiency anemia, treatment may be as simple as a change in diet or taking iron supplements.

In more complex, rare cases, a blood transfusion may be necesssary.