Anemia - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

The red blood cells in your body carry oxygen to the organs. Anemia is a condition in which your body lacks enough red blood cells, due to which oxygen supply to your organs is disrupted. Therefore anemia causes you to feel tired and weak. It can be long-term or chronic and can range from mild to severe. Anemia can occur due to various reasons, hence there are many types of it, each depending upon the cause. If you feel breathless in walking or after eating, it can be a sign of anemia. You should not prolong the symptoms of anemia because they can be an indication of some underlying condition. By eating healthy, you can prevent some types of anemia. The treatment for it varies from supplements to medical surgeries. 


Types 


Broadly classifying, the five types of anemia can be listed as;


Aplastic anemia- a type of anemia in which your body stops producing new red blood cells that carry oxygen to the organs. 


Sickle cell anemia- caused by a group of a disorder called sickle cell disease. It is a type of anemia in which the shape of red blood cells is sickle-shaped, due to which they lack the capacity to carry oxygen.  


Iron deficiency anemia- as the name indicates, iron deficiency anemia occurs due to the deficiency of iron- a substance that produces the oxygen-carrying substance called hemoglobin. 


Thalassemia- is a kind of inherited disorder in which your body produces less hemoglobin than required.  


Vitamin deficiency anemia- this kind of anemia occurs due to the deficiency of vitamins like vitamin C, folic acid, or vitamin B12. 


Symptoms 


The symptoms of anemia may vary from person to person, depending on the cause and severity. Sometimes you might not have any symptoms. However, it may show the following signs and symptoms;


  • Irregular heartbeats

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dizziness 

  • Lightheadedness

  • Fatigue

  • Weakness

  • Pale or yellowish skin

  • Chest pain

  • Cold hands and feet

  • Headaches


Initially, you may not notice any symptoms. But as it worsens over time, the symptoms may also become severe. You should not take the signs and symptoms of anemia lightly, as they can lead to a life-threatening condition. Therefore if you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms, you should visit the healthcare provider as soon as possible. 


Causes 


Anemia occurs when your body lacks enough healthy red blood cells. It can occur due to reasons like;


  • Your body fails to produce red blood cells.

  • Excessive bleeding in which your body loses more red blood cells than it produces.

  • Your body destroys the red blood cells on its own.


These conditions can occur due to various reasons. The most common cause for anemia is iron deficiency. Iron enables your body to produce hemoglobin- a substance that carries oxygen. Other reasons for it can be;


Consuming a diet low in vitamin B12 or having any health condition like pernicious anemia when your body can not absorb it. 


Eating a diet low in folic acid, also known as folate. 

Having genetic disorders like sickle cell anemia or thalassemia.

Health conditions like hemolytic anemia that causes your body to destroy its own red blood cells.


Acute blood loss due to accidents and injuries

Chronic blood loss due to hemorrhoids, gastritis, or ulcers.

Chronic conditions that cause hormonal imbalance, due to which your body fails to produce enough red blood cells. It can happen due to conditions like;


  • Advanced kidney diseases

  • Hyperthyroidism 

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Lupus 



Treatment 


The treatment of anemia depends on the cause. If it occurs due to iron or folate deficiency, it can be corrected with supplements. But if it occurs due to other genetic disorders or chronic bleeding, the healthcare providers may prescribe symptomatic treatment or any other medical procedure, depending upon the cause. 


Conclusion 


Anemia is a condition in which your body fails to produce enough blood cells that carry oxygen in your blood to your organs. It can occur due to various reasons. But the most common cause for anemia is iron-deficiency anemia.


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