What is Hypochromia?

Hypochromia is a condition where the red blood cells (RBCs) that carry oxygen in the body are abnormally small and pale in color. The RBCs become smaller and less able to carry oxygen due to a reduced level of hemoglobin, the protein in the cell that carries oxygen. Hypochromia can be a sign of many conditions, including anemia, and should be investigated to determine its cause.

Types of hypochromia

There are three main types of hypochromia: microcytic hypochromia, macrocytic hypochromia, and anisocytosis. In microcytic hypochromia, the RBCs are abnormally small and pale in color due to a decrease in the amount of hemoglobin in the cell. In macrocytic hypochromia, the RBCs are abnormally large and pale in color due to an increase in the amount of hemoglobin in the cell. Anisocytosis is when the RBCs are of different sizes and shapes, with some being larger than others.

Symptoms of hypochromia

Common symptoms of hypochromia include fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath, and an increased heart rate. Other symptoms may include dizziness, pale gums, and sensitivity to cold temperatures.

Causes of hypochromia

Common causes of hypochromia include anemia, blood loss, vitamin B12 or folate deficiency, liver disease, and certain medications. Certain medical conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, spherocytosis, and iron deficiency anemia, can also cause hypochromia. Hypochromia may also be present in the elderly.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypochromia

Hypochromia can be diagnosed through a blood test to measure the amount of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Depending on the underlying cause, treatment may be needed to address the condition. Treatment may involve taking iron supplements, taking vitamin B12 and folate supplements, or taking medications to treat the underlying condition.

Risks of hypochromia

If left untreated, hypochromia can lead to serious health complications, such as heart failure. It can also make people more prone to infection. Therefore, it is important for people with hypochromia to seek medical attention and follow their doctor's instructions for treatment.