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. Fatigue, weakness and pale skin are indicators the the person has a form of anemia. Treatment and medication depends on the type the person is suffering from.

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 across 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 increase 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 necessary.

Read more on:

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a medical condition which can be caused by a number of factors. Up to 30% of adults have high blood pressure, but many aren't aware of it. Inherited and...

Diabetes

Diabetes (also called diabetes mellitus) is a relatively common condition which affects the levels of sugar in the blood. Up to 2.6 million people in the UK have diabetes, with half a million...

Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD - also known as Coronary Artery Disease) is a narrowing of the small blood vessels which supply blood to the heart itself. Hereditary and lifestyle factors can contribute to the...

High Cholesterol

Having 'high cholesterol' is a medical condition which does not have any symptoms but which puts you at higher risk of other conditions such as heart attacks and strokes. Cholesterol is produced by...