Anemia: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

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anemia

A person with anemia is assumed to have thin blood. And this actually happens when a blood is lost or destroyed faster than his body can replace it.
Red blood cells as a vital instrument for life
The red blood cell is a major fluid in the body responsible for carrying oxygen. It is made up of heamoglobin, a protein that attaches to the oxygen in the lungs and carries it to the tissues through the body. Anemia occurs when you do not have enough red blood or the Red blood cell doesn’t function well. The standard red blood cell volume is 13.5gm/dl in men and 12.0gm/dl in women.

Signs and symptoms

As a result of low oxygen level in the body, you might experience the followings:
1. Pale or yellow skin
2. Shortness of breath
3. Dizziness
4. Headache
5. Cold hands & feet
6. Chest pain
7. Weakness
8. Fast or irregular heart beat
9. Pounding in your ears

Some conditions can predispose you to anemia
Poor diet can expose you to anemia because of the low intakes of some foods and food supplements that can naturally stimulate production of blood cells, intestinal disorders, infections and chronic diseases in any one.
In women who are menstruating or pregnant and people which medical conditions are most at risk for this disease.
Engaging in athletics activities can lower the level of blood cells because it causes breakage in the blood cells. Age is also a factor because as you grow older, your blood cell level , speed and induced pressure reduces.
It is advisable to be watchful when diagnosed of the following conditions;
1. Ulcerative colitis
2. Liver disease
3. Rheumatoid arthritis
4. Cancer
5. Kidney disease
6. Thyroid disease

Types of Anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. It happens when you do not have enough iron in your body. Iron deficiency is usually due to blood loss but may occasionally be due to poor absorption of iron. Pregnancy and childbirth consume a great deal of iron and thus can result in pregnancy-related anemia. People who have had gastric bypass surgery for weight loss or other reasons may also be iron deficient due to poor absorption.

Vitamin-deficiency anemia may result from low levels of vitamin B12 or folate (folic acid), usually due to poor dietary intake. Pernicious anemia is a condition in which vitamin B12 cannot be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.

Aplastic anemia is a rare form of anemia that occurs when the body stops making enough red blood cells. Common causes include viral infections, exposure to toxic chemicals, drugs, and autoimmune diseases. Idiopathic aplastic anemia is the term used when the reason for low red blood cell production is not known.

Hemolytic anemia occurs when red blood cells are broken up in the bloodstream or in the spleen. Hemolytic anemia may be due to mechanical causes (leaky heart valves or aneurysms), infections, autoimmune disorders, or congenital abnormalities in the red blood cell. Inherited abnormalities may affect the hemoglobin or the red blood cell structure or function. Examples of inherited hemolytic anemias include some types of thalassemia and low levels of enzymes such as glucose-6 phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. The treatment will depend on the cause.

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited hemolytic anemia in which the hemoglobin protein is abnormal, causing the red blood cells to be rigid and clog the circulation because they are unable to flow through small blood vessels.

Anemia caused by other diseases – Some diseases can affect the body’s ability to make red blood cells. For example, some patients with kidney disease develop anemia because the kidneys are not making enough of the hormone erythropoietin to signal the bone marrow to make new or more red blood cells. Chemotherapy used to treat various cancers often impairs the body’s ability to make new red blood cells, and anemia often results from this treatment.

Treatment of Anemia

Management of anemia by your doctor is done depending on the factor responsible for reduction in blood cell level.
Iron-deficiency anemia is almost always due to blood loss. If you have iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor may order tests to determine if you are losing blood from your stomach or bowels. Other nutritional anemias, such as folate or B-12 deficiency, may result from poor diet or from an inability to absorb vitamins in the gastrointestinal tract. Treatment varies from changing your diet to taking dietary supplements.

Anemia due to a chronic disease, treatment of the underlying disease will often improve the anemia. Under some circumstances, such as chronic kidney disease, your doctor may prescribe medication such as erythropoietin injections to stimulate your bone marrow to produce more red blood cells.

Aplastic anemia occurs if your bone marrow stops producing red blood cells. Aplastic anemia may be due to primary bone marrow failure, myelodysplasia (a condition in which the bone marrow produces abnormal red blood cells that do not mature properly), or occasionally as a side effect of some medications. If you appear to have a form of aplastic anemia, your doctor may refer you to a hematologist for a bone marrow biopsy to determine the cause of the anemia. Medications and blood transfusions may be used to treat aplastic anemia.

Hemolytic anemia occurs when red blood cells are destroyed in the blood stream. This may be due to mechanical factors (a leaky heart valve or aneurysm), infection, or an autoimmune disease. The cause can often be identified by special blood tests and by looking at the red blood cells under a microscope. The treatment will depend upon the cause and may include referral to a heart or vascular specialist, antibiotics, or drugs that suppress the immune system.

 

Prevention of Anemia

Eating healthy foods can help you avoid both iron-and vitamin-deficiency anemia. Foods to include in your diet include those with high levels of iron (beef, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, and nuts), vitamin B-12 (meat and dairy), and folic acid (citrus juices, dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, and fortified cereals). A daily multivitamin will also help prevent nutritional anemias.
Blood is the fuel for life. Stay healthy and live long.
REFERENCE
1. Anemia American Society of Hematology, www.hematology.org
2. Anemia When there is no doctor; David Werner, Jane Maxwell, Carol Thuman.

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