Anemia is a condition wherein the count of the red blood cells or hemoglobin drops down from normal. The level of hemoglobin is measured in grams per 100 milliliters. The normal count of hemoglobin in men ranges from 13-18 grams/100ml and from 12-16 grams in women. A person whose blood count is lower than the above range is said to be anemic.
In terms of medicine, anemia of different types does not possess the same symptoms.
Iron Deficiency Anemia: Deficient iron content causes insufficient hemoglobin in the body. This deficiency is found particularly in women. It is said that one milligram of iron is needed to the body everyday without which one cannot escape iron deficiency.
Sickle Cell Anemia: Sickle Cell Anemia occurs with the generation of abnormal sickle-shaped red blood cells which lead to severe curtailment of red blood cells. Sickle anemia is much closer to Hemolytic anemia which also leads to the destruction of red blood cells. In other words, this disease is described as Hemoglobin S disease. Joint pains, infections and heart diseases are often found in sickle anemic patients.
Pernicious Anemia: This type of anemia is explained as pernicious anemia for the reason that the intestine becomes incapable of absorbing sufficient vitamin B12, required for red cell production. Pernicious anemia is associated with persons suffering from thyroid and diabetes, leading to problems in movement and vision.
Thalessemia: Thalessemia is a genital anemia causing damage to the genes which help in producing red blood cells. This type of anemia can occur in two stages- mild or severe. Mild Thalassemia has minor symptoms which can be treated while the severity needs transplantation of bone marrow.
Hemolytic Anemia: Hemolytic anemia occurs with the stage where the red blood cells are destroyed at an early stage. During hemolytic period, the antibodies in the immune system destroy red blood cells leading to severe conditions in some patients. Sickle cell anemia and thalessemia are the inheritances of hemolytic anemia.
Aplastic Anemia: The rarest type of anemia found in people is aplastic anemia where the body produces inadequate red and white blood cells. This anemia can be caused due to the usage of toxic chemicals, medications and radio therapy.
The most common symptom in anemic patients is tiredness due to the lack of oxygen to body tissues. Anemia at an initial stage might not come out with any symptoms but can be detected only with the help of a blood test. Some of the symptoms include:
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Problem in breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Pale complexion
- Red lining along the mouth
- Faded eyelids
- Abnormal periods in women
- Rapid heartbeat
- Loss of hair
- Feeling of sickness
In cases of severity, the following symptoms may occur:
- Severe chest pain or heart attack
- Increase in heartbeat
- Yellow- colored skin or jaundice in hemolytic anemias
- Murmuring of the heart
- Spleen enlargement
- Lack of concentration
- Tingling sensation
- Light headedness
- Leg ulcers( in case of sickle cell anemia)
The most important cause for anemia is said to be under production of red blood cells. Reduction in the count of hemoglobin is caused due to the deficiency of iron and vitamins in the diet. Hemolysis or destruction of red cells is another cause. In hemolytic anemia patients, the red cells are destroyed rapidly where the bone marrow becomes weak to make up the loss. A severe bleeding during menstrual period or more supply of blood during pregnancy might also cause anemia. Other possible reasons like usage of certain medications, inherited genes, kidney failure, loss of blood during surgeries and defective immune system may lead to the inadequacy of red cells. Persons suffering from cancers or gastrointestinal ulcers may become anemic as they experience excessive flow of blood.
Anemia can be caused during old age because of poor diet or excessive usage of medicines. Consumption of alcohol with deficient vitamins in the diet, people suffering from blood cancers like leukemia or lymphomas may tend to develop anemic diseases.
Complete blood count check up would be the most suggested diagnostic test. A careful observation of the heartbeat, lungs during fast breathing and abdomen checkup to analyze the size of the spleen and liver can easily diagnose anemia. Other tests include Hemoglobin electrophoresis, iron and ferritin tests. A reticulocyte test measure the number of red cells produced in the blood.
Anemia can be treated depending upon the type and symptoms of severity. The treatment aims at increasing the count of hemoglobin in the body. Consumption of iron or vitamin supplements in the body with diet can be the best treatment for anemia. Meat, chicken, fish, pork, leafy vegetables, dried fruits, cereals and bread are rich in iron content. Vitamin B 12 supplements are found in dairy products, meat, eggs and cereals. Folic acid can be increased by taking a good source of bread, eggs, spinach and other leafy vegetables, bananas and oranges. Vitamin C is obtained from vegetables and citrus fruits.
Few medications can also help in increasing the red blood cell count. Antibiotics, medicines to treat hormonal deficiency, medicines to prevent destruction of red blood cells might help in the treatment of anemia. Chelation therapy is prescribed for lead poisoning to avoid the risk of becoming anemic particularly in children. In cases of severity, blood transfusion, blood and marrow stem cell transplant would be more effective. Sometimes over bleeding might cause anemia and a surgery might prove to be more helpful in such cases.
Home remedies :
The first tip that can easily be followed at home is to avoid tea and coffee as they stop the absorption of iron. Eating one or two apples and dried figs everyday would also help in controlling anemia. Deep breathing and light exercise would raise the blood level.
Above all, an iron-rich diet and intake of vitamins is the most important preventive measure to drive away the problems of anemia.