Posts Tagged ‘Anemia’






Anemia is the most common disorder of the blood. Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein (metalloprotein) inside the red blood cells that contains iron and transports oxygen. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues. Anemia is most commonly due to malnutrition and helminthiasis (a disease caused by a parasitic worm).

Causes and risk factors

Bone marrow is the soft tissue in the center of bones that helps form blood cells. Many medical conditions cause anemia. Common causes of anemia include the following:

  • Anemia from active bleeding
  •  Iron deficiency anemia
  •  Anemia of chronic disease
  • Anemia related to kidney disease
  • Anemia related to pregnancy
  • Anemia related to poor nutrition
  • Pernicious Anemia
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Genetis: Some forms of anemia, such as thalassemia, can be inherited
  • Alcoholism
  • Bone marrow-related anemia
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Anemia related to medications

Other possible causes of anemia include:

  • Chronic diseases such as cancer, ulcerative colitis, or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Blood loss (for example, from heavy menstrual periods or stomach ulcers)
  • Problems with bone marrow such as lymphoma, leukemia, or multiple myeloma
  • Problems with the immune system that cause the destruction of blood cells (hemolytic anemia)
  • Surgery to the stomach or intestines that reduces the absorption of iron, vitamin B12, or folic acid
  • Too little thyroid hormone (underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism)
  • Testosterone deficiency
  •  AIDS
  •  Malaria
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Mononucleosis
  •  Parasitic infections (hookworm)
  •  Bleeding disorders

Signs and Symptoms

People whose anemia develops gradually may have no symptoms for a long time. If it develops rapidly symptoms will usually be felt much sooner. Symptoms will vary according to the type of anemia. It can also make almost any other underlying medical condition worse. Red blood cell count decreases oxygen delivery to every tissue in the body, anemia may cause a variety of signs and symptoms. If anemia is mild, it may not cause any symptoms. If anemia is chronic the body may adapt and compensate for the change; in this case there may not be any symptoms until the anemia becomes more severe.

Possible symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Dizziness or light-headedness (especially when standing up or with activity)
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Problems concentrating
  • Shortness of breath (especially during exercise)
  • Constipation
  • Concentration problems
  • Malaise (a vague feeling that one is not well)
  • Tingling
  • palpitations (feeling of the heart racing or beating irregularly)
  • Looking pale

Symptoms of severe anemia may include:

  • Chest pain, angina, or heart attack
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dry and flaky nails

Others signs that may indicate anemia in an individual may include:

  • Change in stool color: including black and tarry stools (sticky and foul smelling), maroon-colored, or visibly bloody stools if the anemia is due to blood loss through the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Pale or cold skin or sensitivity to cold temperatures
  • If anemia is due to red blood cell breakdown called jaundice and skin appears as yellow.
  • Heart murmur
  • Rapid breathing
  • Enlargement of the spleen with certain causes of anemia

Diagnosis and Tests

A blood test will measure the patient’s red blood count and levels of hemoglobin. If the levels are low the patient has anemia. The blood test will also reveal whether the blood cells have an unusual shape, size or color. Patients with iron deficiency have smaller and paler red blood cells compared to healthy individuals. A patient with a vitamin deficiency will have fewer and larger red blood cells. The doctor will perform a physical examination, and may find:

  • Pale skin
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Heart murmur

Blood tests used to diagnose some common types of anemia may include:

  • Iron level
  • Red blood count and hemoglobin level
  • Blood levels of vitamin B12, folic acid, and other vitamins and minerals
  • Reticulocyte count
  • Ferritin level

Other additional tests

If you receive a diagnosis of anemia, your doctor may order other additional tests to determine the underlying cause. For example, iron deficiency anemia can result from chronic bleeding of ulcers, colon cancer, benign polyps in the colon, tumors, or kidney failure. The doctor may test for these and other conditions that may underlie the anemia.


Treatment for anemia depends on its cause and possible treatment may include:

  • Blood transfusions
  • Corticosteroids or other medicines that suppress the immune system
  • Supplements of iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, or other vitamins and minerals
  • Erythropoietin, a medicine that helps your bone marrow make more blood cells

Diet: Diet play important role to recover the anemia. Iron deficiency anemia.  is treated with changes in your diet and iron supplements. Patient’s whose diets are found to be lacking in iron will be encouraged to consume plenty of iron rich foods, such as dark-green leafy vegetables, artichokes, apples, bananas, apricots, beans, lentils, chick peas, soybeans, meat, nuts, prunes, and raisins.

Prognosis and Expectations

Anemia is a curable condition in many instances. The overall prognosis depends on the underlying cause of anemia and its severity.


Most cases of anemia are mild, including those that occur as a result of chronic disease. Mild anemia can reduce oxygen transport in the blood, causing fatigue and weak to perform physical activity. Certain inherited types of anemia, including thalassemia major, sickle-cell anemia and pernicious anemia can be life threatening. Because a reduction in red blood cells decreases the ability to absorb oxygen from the lungs, serious problems can occur in prolonged and severe anemia that is not treated. Anemia can lead to secondary organ dysfunction or damage, including heart arrhythmia and heart failure. Losing a lot of blood quickly results in acute, severe anemia and can be fatal. Left untreated, anemia can cause numerous complications, such as severe fatigue and heart problems.


Some common types of anemia are most easily prevented by eating a healthy diet and limiting alcohol use, enough sleep and exercise to keep your body healthy and producing enough red blood cells to keep you anemia away. All types of anemia are best avoided by seeing a doctor regularly and when problems arise. For anemia prevention consuming iron rich diet, proper intake of iron (dry fruits, beans and nuts), folate (cereals, legumes, and fruits), vitamin C rich foods. Be careful while consuming excess amount of iron. If you have a family history of an inherited anemia, such as sickle cell anemia, consult to your doctor and possibly a genetic counselor about your risk and what risks you may pass on to your children. In the elderly, routine blood work ordered by the doctor, even if there are no signs and symptoms, may detect anemia and prompt the doctor to look for the underlying causes.