Many of us might not be aware of anemia, Today many people especially women suffer from disorder. So it’s very important to know about this anemia. Anemia is a condition in which the hemoglobin or the red blood cell count is less than normal. The main function of Red blood cells is to carry oxygen to all the body tissues, so a low red blood count in a person indicates very low amount of oxygen in the blood. The cells in your body will not get enough oxygen if your red blood cells or hemoglobin is low. Anemia is measured based on the amount of hemoglobin. Young children, women and people with chronic diseases are more likely to get anemia.
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- Certain forms of anemia are hereditary due to which some infants may get affected from the birth itself.
- During child bearing years women are more likely to get anemia, this may be because of the blood loss during menstruation and the need of more blood supply during pregnancy.
- Older adults may also develop anemia either because of poor diet or other medical issues.
There are various types of anemia and each one of them is different. The most common type of anemia can be treated by iron supplements and changes in diet. Even the anemia that develops during pregnancy are considered to be normal, however there are certain types of anemia which may exist for life time.
What are the different causes of Anemia?
Vitamin B-12, folate and dietary iron are very essential for red blood cells to mature in the body. Everyday about 0.8 to 1% of the body’s red blood cells are replaced. The average life span of these red cells is 100 to 120 days. Anemia is caused when this balance between red blood cell production and destruction is disturbed. Generally the causes of Anemia are divided into:
Those that decrease the production of red blood cell
- In adequate intake of vitamin B-12, iron or folate.
- Inadequate stimulation of the production of red blood cell by the hormone known as erythropoietin, which is produced by kidneys.
Those that increase the destruction of red blood cell
Some disorders may destroy red blood cells mare faster than they are made which may cause anemia. There are many factors which may cause destruction of red blood cell. Some of them are as follows:
- menstruation, child birth, excessive, uterine bleeding or surgery
- liver and spleen disorders
- scar tissue, within the bone marrow
- gastrointestinal lesions
- hemorrhage from accidents
- excessive uterine bleeding
- Disorders of the liver and spleen
- Cirrhosis-(this involves scarring of the liver).
- Hemolysis (rapture of red blood cell) etc.
Iron deficiency is the one of the most common cause of anemia. About 2 billion people worldwide have anemia and many of them have it due to deficiency of iron
What are the complications associated with Anemia?
- Heart problems: – Many a times Anemia leads to a rapid or irregular heart beat. In order to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the blood, your heart has to pump more blood when you are anemic. This can sometimes lead to congestive heart failure.
- Severe fatigue: You may not even be able to carry out daily activities when anemia is severe enough. You may often get exhausted.
- Death- Some of the anemia’s such as sickle cell anemia can be very serious and might lead to life- threatening complications. Excessive loss of blood results in acute, severe anemia which can be fatal.
What are the symptoms of Anemia?
People suffering from anemia appear pale, they may have dizziness or light headedness. They often feel tired and have problems such as constipation and could not concentrate.
In severe cases of Anemia a person may faint or have a heart attack due to low blood oxygen level. Other symptoms of Anemia include shortness of breath, brittle nails and chest pains.
A physical exam that your doctor may show:
- Pale skin
- Increased heart rate
- Heart murmur
- High or low blood pressure
- Enlarged spleen or liver.
People with Anemia should consult a doctor and seek proper medical assistance.
How is Anemia diagnosed?
Your doctor may ask for your family and health history in order to diagnose anemia. He/she may also suggest laboratory tests which would help your doctor to find out the causes of the anemia.
Your doctor may recommend following tests:
Physical exam: Your doctor may check your heart beat during a physical exam. He or she may also check the size of your liver and spleen by placing his or her hands on your abdomen.
Complete blood count (CBC): It helps to count the number of blood cells in a sample of your blood. You doctor might be interested to know the levels of the red blood cells contained in the blood and the hemoglobin in your blood. Blood tests also help to find deficiency of iron and vitamin B-12 in our blood
Stool test: – Your doctor may recommend a stool test, in this test a chemical is applied to a stool specimen to check if the blood is present. Many problems like colon cancer, stomach ulcers, and ulcerative colitis can cause blood to be present in stool.
How to treat Anemia?
The treatment depends on its cause. Your doctor may treat Anemia with nutritional supplements if it is caused by inadequate amounts of iron in your diet or low level of vitamin B-12 and folate. A proper diet can help to prevent this type of anemia.
In severe cases of anemia doctor’s use erythropoietin injections to increase the production of red blood cell in the bone marrow. A blood transfusion may be necessary if the level of hemoglobin is very low.
Anemia can be treated but sometimes it can be dangerous if left untreated. Consult your doctor if you experience any symptoms of Anemia. Follow proper diet and make sure that you are getting the required amount of iron. In most cases proper diet or taking iron supplement can help to solve anemia