Anemia is a medical condition that refers to lack of red blood cells or hemoglobin in blood than normal level. Red blood cells along with hemoglobin carry out the important function of transportation of oxygen to various parts of human body. Hence, lack of red blood cells or hemoglobin simply means the lack of oxygen in your body parts. This low supply of oxygen in body cells would create a whole lot of complications.
Men would be diagnosed with anemia if hemoglobin level is less than 13.5 gms/100 ml and for women, this figure is 12 gms/100 ml.These standard requirements may differ slightly for different medical bodies across the world.
This deficiency of red blood cells can occur if either production of red blood cells or hemoglobin gets reduced or loss of red blood cells or hemoglobin gets increased.
Symptoms of Anemia
A patient of anemia will suffer from a few or all the below symptoms:
• Getting easily tired
• Pale appearance
• Shortness of breath
• Faster or irregular heartbeat
• Cognitive problems
• Worsening of heart problems
At initial stages, symptoms of anemia can be so mild that a person would not take it seriously and eventually the problem would worsen and then serious medical help would be required.
Causes of Anemia
The various causes for anemia can be broadly categorized in 3 groups
1. Anemia caused by blood loss, either slowly or suddenly
2. Anemia caused by slow production of red blood cells
3. Anemic caused by loss/destruction of red blood cells
Let us see in brief few major reasons to
• One of the most common reasons for anemia is iron deficiency. Iron is an important constituent of hemoglobin and helps in proper functioning of hemoglobin to circulate oxygen to various parts of human body. Malnutrition as a result of poverty or negligence towards healthy diet are the two most common reasons for iron deficiency. In India, iron deficiency is predominantly found in children and pregnant ladies.
• Blood loss is also a major reason for loss of hemoglobin. Blood loss can be either due to some sudden accident or due to chronic diseases like cancer, ulcer. Excessive bleeding during menstruation and childbirth would also cause anemia.
• Deficiency of vitamin B-12 and folic acids do cause anemia. It is not that lack of these nutrients in diet can cause anemia. If a person is including these nutrients in diet but not able to absorb this vitamin from intestine due a number of reasons, then also chances of anemia would be high.
• Variety of diseases including leukemia, lymphoma can cause anemia by lowering blood production in bone marrow.
• Hemolytic anemia would develop if destruction of red blood cells is at a faster rate than production by bone marrow
• Alcoholism do cause anemia. A symptom of anemia in long term alcoholics is a common thing.
• Any infection affecting bone marrow would have a high chance of causing anemia
• In some cases, side effects of various medicines would affect the production of red blood cells causing anemia.