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The protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues and in turn returns carbon dioxide is called hemoglobin. The red color in blood is because of the iron contained in hemoglobin. When your body contains low hemoglobin, it produces very few healthy red blood cells, loses too many of them, or destroys them faster than they can be replaced. Due to this problem, blood becomes low in red blood cells that carry oxygen to your tissue, because of which you become tired. Anemia is a common blood disorder that can be temporary or long term and range from mild to severe.

Symptoms

Fatigue is the most common symptom, others include:
  • Headache
  • A feeling of weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cognitive problems
  • Pain in the chest
  • Pale skin
  • Fast/Irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness
Types

There are many types of this disorder, and each of them have their own cause:

Iron Deficiency

This is the most common form. This is caused due to the shortage of the iron in your body, which is required by the bone marrow to manufacture blood. When there is inadequate iron in the body, it is unable to produce red blood cells. One of the methods the body employs to get blood is when blood cells die, the iron in them is recycled to produce new blood cells. Thus, if you lose blood, you lose iron too. Women with heavy periods, people who have slow, chronic blood loss within the body, and pregnant women are at risk. An iron-poor diet also leads to this condition.

Vitamin Deficiency

Apart from iron, the body requires vitamin B-12 and folate to produce sufficient number of healthy blood cells. When these are lacking in the diet, it could lead to a decreased blood cell production. People who have an intestinal disorder that affects the absorption of nutrients are inclined to this type. Those people who are unable to absorb vitamin B-12 for a variety of reasons are at risk too. These fall into the category of megaloblastic anemias. In this type, the bone marrow produces large, abnormal red blood cells.

Chronic Disease

Chronic disease, like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and other inflammatory diseases interfere with the production of the red blood cells, which results in chronic anemia. Another cause can be kidney failure, as the kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin, which stimulates your bone marrow to produce red blood cells. It is a shortage of erythropoietin that can result in a shortage of red blood cells.

Aplastic

This is caused by a decrease in the bone marrow's ability to produce all three types of blood cells - red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Though, at times, the cause is unknown, it is often believed to be an autoimmune disease. Some of the factors that are responsible for this type include chemotherapy, environmental toxins, radiation therapy, pregnancy, and lupus.

Bone Marrow Disease

Diseases, like leukemia and myelodysplasia, a pre-leukemia condition, can cause anemia by affecting blood production in the bone marrow. These types of cancer and cancer-like disorders vary from a mild alteration in blood production to a complete life-threatening shutdown in the process of making blood.

Hemolytic

When red blood cells are destroyed faster than the bone marrow can reproduce them, they give rise to this group of anemias. Increased red blood cell destruction can give rise to certain blood diseases, medications, like antibiotics and autoimmune diseases can cause destruction to the red blood cells too. Thia type can cause yellowing of the skin and an enlarged spleen too.

Sickle Cell

This is a serious and inherited form that usually affects people of African and Arabic descent. This form is caused by a defective form of hemoglobin that forces the red blood cells to take up abnormal crescent shapes. A chronic shortage of red blood cells takes place because of the permanent death of these irregular-shaped red blood cells. Not only this, these sickle shaped red blood cells also block blood that flow through small blood vessels in the body, which often produce painful symptoms.

Others

There are other forms of his condition too, such as thalassemia and anemias caused by defective hemoglobin.

Risk Factors

You may face an increased risk of anemia because of the following reasons:
  • Poor Diet
  • Disorders of the Intestine
  • Pregnancy
  • Menstruation
  • Acute Conditions
  • Family History
Diagnosis

To help diagnose this condition, doctors study the medical history, conduct a physical exam and blood tests, including a complete blood count. This blood test enables the doctor to measure the levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells in your blood. To study the size, shape, and color of your red blood cells, some of your blood may also be measured under a microscope. Once the diagnosis is received, your doctor may order additional tests to determine the underlying cause.

Prevention

Despite the fact that this condition is unavoidable, you can help avoid iron deficiency and vitamin deficiency anemia by eating a healthy and varied diet. This kind of diet is especially important for people who have high iron requirements, like children, pregnant and menstruating women, infants, and long-distance runners.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.