What Causes, Types, Symptoms, Diet, and Treatment of Anemia
Anemia is a medical condition where your blood doesn’t have sufficient ten blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the most important part of red blood cells whose role is to bind oxygen. If you have very less amount of RBCs in or abnormal RBCs in blood or when your hemoglobin is either abnormal or low, the cells of your body won’t receive enough oxygen.
Is it dangerous to have anemia?
When treatment of anemia is not given in time, it could result in many health problems like:
• Severe fatigue
With severe anemia, you may feel very tired and even unable to perform routine tasks.
• Pregnancy complications
Pregnant women who are facing folate deficiency anemia can experience issues like premature birth.
• Heart problems.
Anemia can also result in a rapid or irregular heartbeat. When you have anemia, your heart pumps more blood to compensate for the shortage of oxygen in the blood which can result in heart enlargement or heart failure.
Sickle cell anemia could be critical and pose life-threatening complications. When your body loses a lot of blood, it could be fatal and even cause death.
Can it be cured?
In anemia, there is a reduction in RBCs count or concentration of hemoglobin. There are different types of anemia including those resulting from deficiencies of iron, vitamin, B12, and folic acid.
Sickle cell disease, thyroid diseases, bone marrow diseases, liver diseases, chronic diseases are also the causes of anemia. Anemia is a problem to be seen within the primary care clinic where the tests are carried out initially to diagnose the type of anemia. When red blood cells become larger than the usual size, then the cause may be folic acid or B12 deficiency. In this case, restoring the vitamins may cure the anemia. If the red blood cells appear smaller than the normal size, then iron deficiency may be the cause, and further check-up is done to see that the anemia is not due to chronic bleeding (for example colon cancer).
Iron deficiency anemia is usually treated by taking iron supplements and to make changes in your diet. The cases of sickle cell Anemia, a plastic Anemia, Hemolytic Anemia, Anemia of chronic disease are generally managed with blood transfusions and medications to increase the number of regular appearing red blood cells.
Symptoms of Anaemia
People with anemia experience fatigue most of the times because the cells of your body are starving for oxygen. In extreme cases of anemia, physical changes are also evident like the skin becomes pale and nails become fragile.
Some other symptoms of anemia are:
• Shortness of breath
• Fatigue or weakness
• Cold hands and feet
• Fast heartbeat
• Chest pain
• Sexual dysfunction
The above symptoms are not intense in the case of mild or moderate anemia but as the anemia progresses, symptoms become more evident. Consult your doctor if you feel the symptoms.
Causes and types of Anaemia
Anemia is a condition where your blood is lacking enough healthy red blood cells. This can happen due to the below-mentioned reasons:
• When your body doesn’t make enough healthy RBCs
• When bleeding occurs, it causes you to lose more RBCs faster than they can be restored.
• When your body destroys RBCs
Here are different types of anemia and their causes:
• Iron deficiency anemia
This is a common type of anemia which is caused by a deficiency of iron in the body. Iron is required by the bone marrow to produce hemoglobin. With inadequate iron, your body is unable to make enough hemoglobin for RBCs.
This anemia is very common in pregnant women due to the inadequacy of iron supplementation. The other causes of this anemia are excess blood loss from heavy menstrual bleeding, ulcer, some cancers, and usage of some over-the-counter pain relievers like Aspirin.
• Vitamin deficiency anemia
Your body also needs folate and vitamin B-12 to make healthy RBCs. A diet which is deficient in these nutrients can result in less production of RBCs.
• Anemia of chronic disease
Diseases like cancer, AIDS, diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, and other chronic inflammatory diseases inhibit the production of RBCs.
• Aplastic anemia
This is a very rare type of anemia where the body doesn’t produce enough RBCs. Its causes are infections, some medications, autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis etc. and exposure to harmful chemicals like pesticides, arsenic, benzene.
• Anemias of bone marrow disease
In this anemia, there is not enough production of blood cells in the bone marrow due to diseases like leukemia, myelofibrosis.
• Hemolytic anemias
This type of anemia develops where red blood cells are damaged faster than bone marrow can restore them. This happens due to certain blood diseases. This can be an inherited condition or it can develop later on in life.
• Sickle cell anemia
This is an inherited condition where red blood cells become crescent-shaped due to a defective form of hemoglobin. These asymmetrical blood cells die early resulting in a persistent shortage of RBCs.
• Other types of anemia
Other forms of anemia are thalassemia and malarial anemia.
Treatment of anemia
Anemia treatment depends on the cause and the severity of the anemia.
• Iron deficiency anemia
Iron deficiency anemia can be treated by taking iron supplements and changing diet. But if the underlying cause is a loss of blood, the source of bleeding is detected and treated. This may require surgery.
• Vitamin deficiency anemias
Treatment for vitamin deficiency anemia( folic acid and B12)includes dietary supplements and increase these vitamins in your food. You may also need Vitamin B12 shots if your digestive system has difficulty to absorb vitamin B12 from the food you take.
• Anemia of chronic disease
There is no particular treatment for this anemia. Here, the main concern of a doctor is to treat the underlying disease but if the symptoms become acute, a blood transfusion is required. Epoetin Alfa (Procrit or Epigenetics) medication is given in the form of an injection to increase RBCs in the people with kidney disease since the production of erythropoietin is decreased in people with advanced kidney disease.
• Aplastic anemia
Treatment for Aplasticanemiainvolves blood transfusions to increase levels of red blood cells. You may require a bone marrow transplant when the bone marrow is diseased and it is unable to make healthy RBCs.
• Anemias associated with bone marrow disease
Treatment of this involves medication, chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation.
• Hemolytic anemias
Treatment of hemolytic anemias involve:
• Blood transfusion
• Surgery to remove a spleen
• Sickle cell anemia
Treatment for this anemia may include medications( antibiotics, pain-relieving medications), blood transfusions and rarely a bone marrow transplant.
Mild forms of thalassemia may not require treatment but moderate to severe thalassemia need treatment that involves blood transfusions or stem cell transplant.
Diet in Anemia
The diet plan to follow for anemia include the foods with high content of iron and other vitamins requiredforRBCs production. The diet should include the foods that help your body to absorb iron.
Usually, the iron requirement for the body is 150-200 milligrames per day. But the diet plans are based on an individual’s requirements. But along with diet, you also need to take iron supplements as prescribed by your doctor.
You should include vegetables and fruits in your diet like spinach, collard greens, dandelion greens, red/yellow peppers, broccoli, and citrus fruits.
Rather than depending on only vegetables and fruits, you should try to get iron from different sources.
Include nuts and seeds in your diet
• Pine nuts
• Pumpkin seeds
• Hemp seeds
• Sunflower seeds
Also, include meat and fish in your diet
Include dairy products like raw milk, yogurt, cheese etc. In your diet. Other than this, take beans and pulses eg. Kidney beans, chickpeas, soybeans, peas, Lima beans, pinto beans.
Also, choose iron-fortified cereals, rice, pasta, bread products, orange juice.
Anemia in kids and women
Anemia in children
What is anemia?
Anemia is a condition where there are less red blood cells than normal, or there is a low concentration of hemoglobin in the blood. Children may also have anemia.
Symptoms of Anaemia in Children
Each child may feel symptoms differently. But the most common symptoms of anemia in Children are:
• Abnormal paleness
• Increased heart rate
• Irregular menstruation cycles in girls
• Absent or delayed menstruation
• Sore or swollen tongue
• Enlarged spleen or liver
• Slow or delayed physical growth
• Longer healing time for wound and tissue
What are the causes of anemia in Children?
The causes of anemia in Children are an infection, certain diseases, some medications, inadequate nutrition.
Treatment of Anemia in Children
Treatment can be given on the basic factors like:
• Child's age, health, and medical history
• Type and cause of anemia
• The extent of the anemia
• Child's capacity to endure particular medications, therapies
Last but not the least
• Your opinion or preference.
Anemia can be treated in the following ways:
• Vitamin and mineral supplements.
• Change in diet.
• Treatment of the causative disorder.
• Surgery to remove the spleen (in case of hemolytic anemia).
• Blood transfusions
• Bone marrow transplant (In case of aplastic anemia).
Anemia in women
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia which is due to the shortage of iron in the body. Women may suffer from iron deficiency anemia because of several reasons. Firstly, women of age 12 to 49 loose blood during their periods. The risk is even higher in women when the periods are considerably long or when there is heavy bleeding.
Secondly, women require an additional amount of iron during pregnancy for the proper growth of their babies. The requirement of iron in pregnant women is 50% more iron than usual (27 mg per day during pregnancy while 18 mg a day in general )At the time of delivery also, women lose blood.
Prenatal vitamins contain iron and can help in maintaining a good amount of iron level in women.
Anemia in pregnancy
Anemia is a very common complication during pregnancy. Physiologic changes can affect the hemoglobin concentration. The most common types of anemia during the pregnancy period are iron deficiency anemia and folate deficiency anemia which are most likely to affect women who don’t receive adequate diet as well as prenatal iron and folate supplements. With severe anemia, there is a negative impact on the mother and fetus. Other complications of severe anemia during pregnancy are a miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and even fetus deaths. The lower limit for hemoglobin concentration is 11 he/dl in the first trimester and 10 gr/dl in the second as well as third trimester.
In iron deficiency anemia, iron supplements should be given. The folate deficiency anemia is treated by taking a healthy diet, foods with a high content of folic acid like leafy green vegetables, fruits, nuts, bread, and cereals.