What Is Anemia?

Anemia, also known as anaemia, is a condition in which a person has a lower than normal number of red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. When hemoglobin or red blood cells are at a lower level than is normal, the body’s tissues and organs don’t get enough oxygen and the person is said to have anemia.

Signs & Symptoms of Anemia

Anemia can cause a variety of symptoms, such as fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath, dizziness, and a rapid heart rate. Other symptoms can include:

  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Weakness
  • Cold feeling in the hands and feet
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irritability
  • Sore or swollen tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • Chest pains
  • Paleness of the skin
  • Heart palpitations

Types Of Anemia

There are a few different types of anemia, including iron deficiency anemia, vitamin deficiency anemia, acute or chronic anemia, and anemia caused by chronic diseases such as kidney disease or cancer.

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. It occurs when the body does not have enough iron, causing the red blood cell count to be low. Iron is necessary for the body to make healthy red blood cells in the bone marrow.

Vitamin deficiency anemia occurs when the body does not get enough of certain vitamins—typically vitamin B12 and folate—from the diet. Vitamin B12 and folate are essential for the body to make healthy red blood cells in the bone marrow.

Acute anemia is a sudden drop in red blood cell count due to a reaction to certain medications, toxins, or drugs. Chronic anemia is a much slower decline that happens due to underlying health conditions or nutritional deficiencies.

Anemia that is caused by chronic diseases such as kidney disease or cancer is a result of the body not being able to make enough red blood cells due to the underlying disease.

Treatment Of Anemia

The treatment of anemia depends on the underlying cause, the severity of the condition, and the overall health of the patient. In mild cases, lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet with plenty of iron-rich foods may be enough to treat the anemia. Many people are also prescribed iron supplements or vitamin B12 and folate supplements if their anemia is due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

In more severe cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary or a medication may need to be prescribed to treat the underlying cause. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove damaged or diseased tissue or organs.

Preventing Anemia

The best way to prevent anemia is to eat a balanced diet with plenty of iron-rich foods. Eating foods that are high in folate and vitamin B12 can also help. Supplements may be necessary for people who are at a higher risk of developing anemia, such as pregnant women or those with chronic illnesses. It’s also important to get regular checkups and to tell your doctor if any of the symptoms of anemia are present.