Anemia: Causes and Symptoms

Anemia is a medical condition that occurs when a person has less than the normal number of red blood cells or less hemoglobin than normal in the blood. Red blood cells are important because they contain hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is important because it is the protein that carries oxygen all over the body.

Some Signs and Symptoms
Feeling tired
Dizziness and Fainting
Rapid heart beat
Fatigue easily
Feeling cold
Decreased appetite
Appear pale
Short of breath

The signs and symptoms of Anemia increase as the condition progresses.

These symptoms are similar to many other conditions so it is important to see your doctor for the correct diagnosis. When you see your doctor he will look at your medical history, give you a physical exam, and perform blood tests, including a complete blood count (CBC).

What Causes Anemia? Possible causes of Anemia are:
Chronic blood loss or lack of iron
Sudden blood loss (a bleeding ulcer)
Lack of vitamin B12 and folate deficiency
Poor diet
Bone marrow diseases – A wide assortment of bone marrow diseases can cause anemia. For example, cancers that spread (metastasize) to the bone marrow, or cancers of the bone marrow (such as leukemia or multiple myeloma) can cause the bone marrow to inadequately produce red blood cells, resulting in anemia.

Kinds of Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) – Iron deficiency anemia is the most common of the anemia and is usually due to bleeding or not eating enough iron in their diet. Pregnant and nursing women frequently develop this deficiency since the baby requires large amounts of iron for growth. Megaloblastic anemia (Vitamin B-12 and folate deficiency anemia) is another anemia caused by Vitamin deficiency – The body needs vitamin B-12 and folate to manufacture red blood cells, and will develop megaloblastic anemia if one or both of these substances is deficient.
Sickle Cell Anemia is a hereditary problem that can cause minor difficulties as the “trait” (when you carry one mutated gene from one of your parents) but severe clinical problems as the “disease” (when you carry two mutated genes, one from each of your parents). The red blood cells are not shaped correctly and clog the blood vessels, causing pain and anemia.

The treatment of anemia depends on the cause and type of anemia. The underlying cause of anemia needs to be taken care of first. In some case the anemia can be cured easily (medications, diet modifications or supplements), but in others it can be very difficult. If left untreated, anemia can lead to blood transfusions or cause other more serious health issues (ex. heart attack).

Some types of anemia can be prevented. A few steps to help prevent are:
1. Eat foods high in iron like beans, spinach, chicken liver, iron fortified cereals.
2. Eat and drink food that helps absorb iron like oranges, orange juice, broccoli.
3. Take iron supplements only after talking to your doctor. Getting too much iron in the body can be dangerous.

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