What is Anemia?
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Anemia is a condition during which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to hold adequate oxygen to your body’s tissues. Having anemia can cause you to feel tired and weak. It is a condition in which there is reduced delivery of oxygen to the tissues. It is not considered a disease but rather a symptom of numerous disorders. There are many sorts of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia is often temporary or long-term, and it can range from mild to severe. See your doctor if you think that you have anemia. It is often a wake-up call of significant illness.
How common is anemia?
More than 30% of the population suffers from Anemia. Within the U.S., anemia is the most common blood condition. An estimated three million Americans have the disorder.
Who is most likely to develop anemia?
Anyone can develop anemia, although the subsequent groups have a better risk:
Women: Blood loss during monthly periods and childbirth can cause anemia. This is very true if you’ve got heavy periods or a condition like fibroids.
Children, between the ages of 1 to 2: This is mainly due to that the body needs more iron for growing.
Infants: Infants may get less iron once they are weaned from breast milk or formula to solid food. Iron from solid food isn’t as easily haunted by the body.
People over 65: People over 65 are more likely to possess ironpoor diets and certain chronic diseases.
People on blood thinners: Asprin is one of the most common medications.
What are the signs and symptoms of anemia?
Several signs and symptoms occur altogether sorts of anemia, like fatigue, shortness of breath, and feeling cold.
Dizziness or weakness.
Pale skin, dry skin, or easily bruised skin.
Unintended movement within the lower leg (restless legs syndrome).
How does anemia affect the body?
In addition to feeling tired or cold, some of the other signs of an iron deficiency include having brittle or spoonshaped nails and possible hair loss. You might find that your sense of taste has changed, otherwise, you might experience ringing in your ears. Different types of anemia may cause other serious problems. Heart and lung complications are common when people suffer from sickle cell anemia.
If you’ve got anemia that’s not treated, it could lead to an irregular heartbeat or coronary failure. Depression increases the risk of getting other infections. Chewing ice may be a sign of pica, a condition that has eating things that aren’t really food, like chalk or dirt. So pica is additionally a symbol of iron deficiency. It is often seen in children with anemia.
How else does anemia affect children?
Children lacking in iron and other nutrients in their diets are at higher risk of suffering from anemia and related problems. As your children get older it is necessary to pay more attention to signs of anemia because of growth spurts and menstrual cycles.
How does anemia affect older adults?
In older adults, anemia may need even more impact in causing confusion or depression. Weakness may make walking more difficult. Anemia may shorten your lifespan if you’re older and it’s not treated.
Can anemia affect my weight?
Having enough iron can also be an element in weight issues. Studies have found overweight people might reduce if they address low iron within the blood. Weight loss is common when having anemia. People who have had weight loss due to surgery might become anemic thanks to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Anemia occurs when your blood doesn’t have enough red blood cells.
This can happen if:
- Your body doesn’t make enough red blood cells.
- Bleeding causes you to lose red blood cells more quickly than they can be replaced
- Your body destroys red blood cells.
What red blood cells do
Your body makes three types of blood cells — white blood cells to fight infection, platelets to help your blood clot, and red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body.
Red blood cells contain hemoglobin — an iron-rich protein that gives blood its red color. Hemoglobin enables red blood cells to carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body and to carry carbon dioxide from other parts of the body to your lungs to be exhaled.
Most blood cells, including red blood cells, are produced regularly in your bone marrow — a spongy material found within the cavities of many of your large bones. To produce hemoglobin and red blood cells, your body needs iron, vitamin B-12, folate, and other nutrients from the foods you eat.
Causes of anemia
Different types of anemia have different causes.
- Iron deficiency anemia. A shortage of iron in your body is usually the most common type of anemia. Your bone marrow needs iron to make hemoglobin. Your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin for red blood cells without adequate iron.
- Iron supplements are recommended for pregnant women to avoid anemia. Heavy menstrual bleeding, an ulcer, cancer, and therefore the regular use of some overthecounter pain relievers, especially aspirin, can cause inflammation of the stomach lining leading to blood loss.
- Vitamin deficiency anemia. Your body needs iron, folate, and vitamin B12 to produce enough healthy red blood cells. Make sure you supplement your diet with the proper nutrients such as vitamins and minerals lacking in these. Without these key nutrients, which we will cover later, you are at risk of decreased red blood cell production.
- Anemia of inflammation. Diseases like cancer, HIV/AIDS, atrophic arthritis, renal disorder, regional enteritis, and other acute or chronic inflammatory diseases may interfere with the assembly of red blood cells.
- Aplastic anemia. This type of anemia is rare and is lifethreatening. Your body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells.
- Aplastic anemia causes infections. There are certain medicines, a weak autoimmune disease, and exposure to toxic chemicals that are associated with this type of anemia. Anemias associated with bone marrow disease. Leukemia and myelofibrosis caused by this type of anemia can cause low blood production, which attacks your bone marrow. The effects of those sorts of cancer and cancerlike disorders vary from mild to lifethreatening.
- Hemolytic anemias. Certain blood diseases increase red blood cell destruction. You can inherit hemolytic anemia; otherwise, you can develop it later in life. Sickle cell anemia. This is inherited, and the sometimes serious condition is hemolytic anemia. A defective form of hemoglobin forces red blood cells to assume an abnormal crescent (sickle) shape. Red blood cells are destroyed faster than bone marrow can replace them.
The most common cause of anemia is low levels of iron 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 your body. However, iron deficiency anemia 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 anemia).
- Diets lacking in folic acid also called folate, or your body can’t use folic acid correctly (like folate-deficiency anemia).
- Inherited blood disorders (like sickle cell anemia
- Conditions that cause red blood cells to break down too fast (like hemolytic anemia).
- Chronic conditions are 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 is 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 to 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 anemia 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.
How does anemia affect pregnancy?
Iron deficiency during pregnancy increases the prospect of complications, like premature birth. There is also a risk of low birth weight. The low iron levels are passed on to the baby. If you’re pregnant, you’re more likely to develop iron deficiency anemia. It is recommended that pregnant add an iron supplement. B12 and B9 vitamins either through food or supplementation are also recommended. Finding out that you simply have anemia is simply the start. Finding the explanation for the anemia will lead you to the simplest treatment.
How is anemia diagnosed?
Blood tests are performed to tell if you have anemia. The main test may be a complete blood count test, also called the CBC. The CBC can tell you ways many red blood cells you’ve got, how big they are, and what shape they are. Blood tests also can tell you if you’re low in vitamins B12 and B9 and the way much iron your body has stored. The type and number of blood and other tests will depend upon what sort of anemia your provider thinks you simply have.
Blood and urine tests can indicate if you’ve got hemolytic anemia.
A colonoscopy or fecal occult blood test of your stool may be suggested to find gastrointestinal bleeding. In some cases, you may need a bone marrow biopsy and, in certain rare cases, the removal of bone marrow tissue. The type of anemia and its cause will allow your healthcare provider to work out the proper treatment.
How is anemia treated?
Your doctor will need to determine if the anemia is being caused by a poor diet or more serious ill health. This way, you can be treated for the cause of anemia.
Irondeficiency anemia is treated with:
Foods that are high in iron and foods that help your body absorb iron (like foods with Vitamin C).
Iron is given through an intravenous (IV) infusion. (This is usually a choice if you’ve got chronic renal disorder or CKD.)
Other sorts of anemia may require other sorts of treatment. For instance, genetic disorders (like betathalassemia and sickle cell anemia) may require a bone marrow transplant. If CKD is causing your anemia, additionally to iron supplementation (through oral or IV means), treatment could also include injections of erythropoietin (EPO). EPO may be a hormone that tells the bone marrow to form red blood cells. Anemia is additionally linked to cancer in some cases — both in terms of anemia being a symbol and in terms of cancer treatment. Both radiation and chemotherapy can cause anemia.
Is anemia fatal?
Most types of anemia are often treated but can still be fatal if ignored. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 1.7 deaths per 100,000 thanks to anemia within the U.S. in 2017.
How can I prevent anemia?
Some sorts of anemia, are inherited, and can’t be prevented. However, you’ll prevent anemia caused by iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, and vitamin B9 deficiency by eating well. This includes eating a diet with enough foods that provide iron and these vitamins, alongside vitamin C food sources to assist with absorption. Make sure that you drink enough water. Some studies have indicated that this may help keep hemoglobin levels up.
How do I manage anemia?
While some sorts of anemia are shortterm and mild, others can last throughout a lifetime.
There are several ways to assist in managing anemia, including:
Following a healthy diet.
Drinking enough water to stay hydrated.
Exercising regularly. However, if you’ve been weak, you ought to begin exercising cautiously.
Avoiding exposure to chemicals that set off anemia. Wash your hands often to avoid infection.
Taking excellent care of your teeth and getting to the dentist regularly.
Talk to your doctor about any changing symptoms.
Keep track of your symptoms by keeping a journal.
Which foods should I eat, and which foods should I avoid if I even have anemia?
With anemia, making good food choices is important. Eating food means you’re getting calories without nutrients. You also need to consider other medical conditions that you simply have once you make your food choices. Some things are shown to impair iron absorption. You should not take calcium and iron supplements at an equivalent time.
In addition, you’ll want to avoid or limit these items:
Cut down on containing items like coffee, tea, and some spices.
Fiber. (You won’t want to eliminate all fiber, though, because taking iron supplements could cause constipation.)
Foods that provide vitamins B12, B9, and C and are rich in iron should be consumed. This means that you simply can enjoy much good food that’s for you, whether you eat meat or not—plant sources like lentils, spinach, and pistachios. Protein sources like lean beef and turkey are also rich in iron. Dark leafy vegetables and whole grains are good sources of B vitamins. Some foods are even fortified with iron. To improve iron, supplement your diet with consumption. It is a good idea to consume citrus fruits, berries, and other vitamin containing foods like peppers and tomatoes
Also, confirm that grapefruit doesn’t interfere with any of your medications. It’s important to be educated on what you’ll do to require the simplest care of yourself that you simply can. It is also important that you simply and your healthcare provider make decisions together about what works best for you. Take the chance to invite a referral to a registered dietitian if you would like help setting a diet to assist with iron intake. Make sure you ask all the questions that you simply have so you’ll be confident in moving forward.
- Cooley’s Anemia Foundation
- Diamond-Blackfan Anemia Foundation
- Iron Disorders Institute
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