Anaemia - Health Center
By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST
Anaemia - Overview
Anemia has widely emerged out to be known as the condition in which the human body comes to lack the RBC’s (Red Blood Cells), thereby decreasing the amount of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the major component of the RBC’s which is used in order to bind the oxygen to the cells, carrying this vital gas to every organ of the body, ensuring their vital functioning. Around the world, anemia is known to affect around 3.5 million people. It has been observed that women and children are at a maximum risk of contracting this disease.
Some of the basic factors that determine the occurrence of anemia are that certain forms of it are hereditary and can be transferred from the mother to the child directly. Not only are those, women in their childbearing years the ones that are majorly susceptible to anemia due to the amount of blood that is lost during menstruation. In adults, the chances of occurrence of anemia increase due to the consumption of poor diet and other varied medical conditions that they may be suffering from.
Different types of anaemia’s are known to exist all over the world. One of the major types is the Iron deficiency anaemia’s which is easily treatable with the changes in the diet pattern and by the intake of the iron supplements.
Causes of Anaemia
Around 400 types of anaemia’s are known till now.
They have been subdivided into the following groups:
1. Blood Loss Anemia
2. Anemia caused due to the decreased amount of RBC’s
3. The anemia caused by destruction of the RBC’s
TYPE 1 Anaemia :
Anemia caused due to blood loss is the one that can occur to a person over a long period of time. This can go unnoticed in a large number of people. The reason for the bleeding can be many:
Gastrointestinal problems: These may include, peptic ulcers, gastritis or stomach cancer.
Excessive menstruation in women during multiple pregnancies
Excessive use of anti inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, that can lead to gastrointestinal ulcers.
Type II Anaemia – Decreased / Faulty Production Of RBC’s
During this type of anemia, the body decreases the production of the RBC’s or causes the faulty production of RBC’s. Due to the lack of minerals and vitamins, which are needed for the RBC production, this type of condition may occur. The most common conditions that are associated with Type II anemia are as follows:
- Sickle cell anemia.
- Iron deficiency anemia.
- Vitamin deficiency anemia.
- Problems with the bone marrow and stem cells
Out of this, Sickle cell anemia is the best known. In this condition, the RBC’s of a person are crescent shaped and therefore bear an inability to carry enough oxygen needed for all the body parts. They also tend to get caught up in the blood vessels of a person, causing tremendous pain.
Iron Deficiency Anemia is the one which is caused due to the lack of the mineral iron in the human body. Iron is needed by the body in order to produce hemoglobin, the part of the RBC, which is responsible in order to carry oxygen. Iron deficiency anemia can be caused due to an iron poor diet, Crohn’s disease or by sustainable endurance training.
Vitamin Deficiency Anemia: This kind of anemia occurs due to the deficiency of the Vitamin B12 and Folate. These two vitamins are elemental for the production of RBC’s. Due to the Vitamin deficiency in the body, different types of anaemia’s such as Megaloblastic anaemia, in which both Vitamin B12 and Folate are absent and Pernicious anemia, in which B12 is not absorbed by the body may occur. Not only that, the dietary deficiency such as overcooking can lead to the destruction of these vitamins. It is recommended that during pregnancy, women should be provided with a sufficient amount of folic acids so that the fetus can be protected from contracting neural defects such as spina bifida.
Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Conditions:
Sometimes, bone marrow and stem cells can lead the body from developing RBC’s if the stem cells are too less in number or are defective, they can be replaced in the body by the metastatic cancer cells. Anemia associated with the deficiency of the bone marrow and stem cells can be categorized as follows:
1. Aplastic anemia: This condition occurs when there is a reduction amongst the stem cells. It can often be inherited by children or can occur when the bone marrow has been injured by radiation or chemotherapy.
2. Thalassemia: Thalassemia is the condition in which the RBC’s don’t mature or grow properly. Mostly it is known to be caused by the people of the Mediterranean, African or Southeast Asian descent. This condition is known to be life threatening, though a lot of treatment options are coming out.
3. Lead Exposure to the bone marrow also proves to be toxic for people and often leads to the production of the few RBC’s. This can occur due to the increased exposure to lead.
Symptoms of Anaemia
Amongst the many symptoms of anaemia’s which are prevalent all over the world, the following are the ones which are the most noticeable and can help in the determination of the disease:
- Increased fatigue and excessive loss of energy.
- Rapid heartbeat during exercise.
- Increased shortness of breath, followed by headache.
- Difficulty in concentrating.
- Pale skin.
- Muscular cramps.
- Upward curving of the finger nails.
- Soreness around the mouth followed by cracks.
- Abdominal pains.
- Symptoms pertaining to gallstones.
- Increased susceptibility to infection.
- Abdominal pain
Not all the symptoms are visible in all the people suffering from anemia, though if you happen to be suffering from a major of these symptoms, then it is recommended that you see a doctor about it at the soonest.
For women considering pregnancy, it is recommended to take iron rich supplements, along with Folate in order to boost your iron production.
Diagnosis and Treatment - Anaemia
Doctors, usually go in for the performing of a physical exam and blood tests in order to determine the occurrence of Anaemia. Blood tests are fundamental in order to determine and diagnose Anaemia, as it helps the doctor to point out the underlying condition that might be causing the Anaemia.
The tests basically include the following:
- Complete Blood Count (CBC) that helps to determine the number, size, per mg volume as well as the hemoglobin content in the RBC’s of the affected person.
- Blood Iron Level determines the iron stores of a person as well as calculated the serum ferritin levels in the body.
- Determining the level of Vitamin B12 and Folate is also necessary in order to check the RBC’s production.
Special blood tests detect the rare causes of Anaemia that may also include the RBC fragility, enzyme defect in the body as well as the internal clotting factors, if any.
- Reticulocyte count, bilirubin count as well as the urine tests, determines the production rate of the RBC’s in the bone marrow as well as check the life span of the RBC in case of hemolytic Anaemia.
- In the rarest of cases, the doctors need to remove the sample of the bone marrow of the patient in order to determine the causative factor for Anaemia.
Until and unless, the doctor has not determined the causative factor for the occurrence of Anaemia in patients, no treatment can be prescribed. It has been found out that the treatment of one type of Anaemia may prove out to be inappropriate or dangerous for another type of anaemia.
The most commonly known treatments are as follows:
1. Blood Loss Anaemia: For Anaemia caused by the excessive loss of blood, fluids are used for the treatment. Along with fluids, a blood transfusion is often prescribed along with iron and oxygen in order to build up the production of the RBC’s. For the chronic loss of blood, the doctors can identify the loss of bleeding, stop the bleeding by targeting on the case and then provide the necessary treatment for the iron deficiency Anaemia.
2. Anaemia caused by the decreased RBC’s: For this kind of enemy, Bone Marrow Transplants have emerged out to be as one of the most innovative as well as the most realistic of the options.
3. Iron deficiency Anaemia: Since there is a decrease in the amount of Iron in the body, the bone marrow is unable to produce RBC’s. Majorly, a colonoscopy or barium enema is the one which is prescribed by the doctors in order to determine the reason for the chronic bleeding. Along with that, Iron supplements are recommended, that contain iron in the raw ferrous form, which can be easily absorbed by the body.
4. Vitamin B12 Intake: The intake of Vitamin B12 is essential for the treatment of pernicious Anaemia.
The following food items are the best recommended by the doctors for the treatment of Pernicious Anaemia:
- Cereals containing Vitamin B 12.
- Meats such as beef, liver, poultry as well as fish.
- Eggs and dairy products, such as milk, yoghurt, cheese and butter.
- Soy based food and beverages.
5. Folic Acid Intake: The intake of Folic Acid is essential in order to help in the creation of Red Blood Cells. Folic Acid intake is often increased in the case of pregnant women as it helps them to avoid Anaemia and promote the growth of new blood cells.
The major foods that are prescribed in order to boost the production of Folic Acid are as follows:
- Bread and rice with added folic acid.
- Spinach or other similar dark leafy vegetables
- Black eyed peas or dried beans
- Beef liver
- Eggs and poultry
- Bananas, oranges and lemons
6. Vitamin C Intake: A healthy intake of Vitamin C too is known to treat Anaemia in case of many patients. The foods that are good sources of Vitamin C are vegetables and fruits such as Citric Acid fruits like oranges, grapefruits, tangerines and other similar fruits. It is often recommended to take fresh fruits rather than canned fruits which contain preservatives and added sugar. The intake of Vitamin C is known to strengthen the effect of medicines. Kiwi, strawberries and cantaloupes are other similar fruits that can work wonders. Vegetables rich in Vitamin C such as broccoli, peppers, sprouts and tomatoes too are known to have shown a great amount of recovery in patients.
Anaemia is a condition, which needs treatment and constant care upon that.
However, it can also be easily treated with a combination of medicines and healthy lifestyle choices.