Anaemia is a blood disorder in which there is a fewer red blood cells than the normal level or has less amount of haemoglobin than normal in each red blood cell. In any case, less amount of oxygen is carried in the bloodstream around the body. Red blood cells (RBCs), carry oxygen to the body tissues using a particular protein called haemoglobin. Anaemia is not a disease, but it is a malfunction in the body. Anaemia is a common blood condition, particularly in females. It is observed that around one in five menstruating women and half of all pregnant women are anaemic.
Anaemic individuals may have RBCs that consist of an abnormal shape or that appears normal, larger than normal, or smaller than normal.
Types of anaemia
It is a common type of anaemia due to a lack of iron mainly because of blood loss or pregnancy. It can be treated with iron tablets and by eating iron-rich foods.
Sickle cell anaemia
It is an inherited disease, where the red blood cells appear as half-moon shaped. This shape can make the RBCs "sticky" and restrict smooth flow through blood vessels.
The red blood cells appear normal but they are less in no. to meet the body’s needs. They are a result of impaired production of RBCs, or chronic infections and systemic diseases.
It indicates low haemoglobin levels due to red blood cell destruction, elevated haemoglobin catabolism, reduced haemoglobin, and an increase of bone marrow efforts to regenerate blood products. As a result, the body doesn't have enough red blood cells to function.
This type of anaemia is a rare inherited disorder that affects the bone marrow. The bone marrow fails to produce all types of blood cells, including red blood cells. Children with this blood disorder suffer from serious birth defects and may develop leukaemia
Megaloblastic anaemia (MA)
Megaloblastic anaemia is a type of macrocytic anaemia in which the bone marrow produces unusually large, structurally abnormal, immature red blood cells (megaloblasts). Deficiencies of folic acid and vitamin B12 are the primary causes of megaloblastic anaemia.
Pernicious anaemia (PA)
It is megaloblastic anaemia resulting from a deficiency of cobalamin (vitamin B12). It is an autoimmune disorder due to the malabsorption of vitamin B12. Malabsorption in pernicious anaemia is due to the lack or loss of intrinsic factors needed for vitamin B 12 absorption.
- Tiring easily
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Orthostatic hypotension
- Frequent headaches
- Irritational behaviour
- Difficulty concentrating
- Cracked or reddened tongue
- Loss of appetite
- Strange food cravings
When to see a doctor?
Take a doctor's appointment if you are getting tired easily and don't know its reason. If you observe the above anaemia symptoms or during a blood test your haemoglobin count has come low.
Causes of Anaemia
Anaemia can be congenital or due to a condition you develop (acquired). Anaemia is observed when the blood has insufficient red blood cells.
The reasons are -
- Less red blood cell production
- Destruction of red blood cells in the body (autoimmune disorder)
- The most common type of anaemia is iron-deficiency anaemia. It occurs due to low levels of iron in the body.
- Nutrition is devoid of vitamin B12, or the body is unable to absorb Vitamin B12 in case of pernicious anaemia.
- Foods do not have folic acid or folate, or the body is unable to utilize folic acid properly resulting in folate-deficiency anaemia.
- Genetic blood disorders like sickle cell anaemia or thalassemia.
- Conditions that cause red blood cell destruction cause hemolytic anaemia.
- Chronic diseases involve fewer hormones that do not produce enough red blood cells.
- Loss of blood due to other health conditions like haemorrhoids, ulcers or gastritis.
Anaemia Risk factors
A nourishment deficient in certain vitamins and minerals increases the risk of anaemia.
A gastrointestinal disorder that affects the absorption of the nutrients in your small intestines, for example, Crohn's disease and celiac disease increase anaemia risks.
Menstrual women who haven't yet reached menopause have a greater risk of iron deficiency anaemia. Menstruation results in the loss of red blood cells.
Anaemia in pregnancy is due to not taking a multivitamin with folic acid and iron.
Chronic health conditions like kidney failure, cancer, kidney failure or other chronic illness, could put you at risk of anaemia of chronic disease.
If you're having a family history of inherited anaemia, for example, sickle cell anaemia, your chances of being anaemic increase.
Previously if you had certain infections, blood disorders and autoimmune disorders put you at risk of anaemia. Exposure to toxic chemicals, alcoholism and usage of some medications can damage the process of red blood cell production and lead to anaemia.
Elderly people mainly over age 65 face an increased risk of anaemia.
If anaemia symptoms are ignored it can cause many health problems, such as:
Severe anaemia can make feel you so sick and tired that you can't complete everyday activities.
Pregnant women having folate deficiency anaemia can face complications, such as premature birth.
Anemia can lead to heart arrhythmia resulting in an enlarged heart or heart failure.
Severe anaemia with no medical treatment leads to the death of an individual.
Diagnosis of anaemia
A complete blood count (CBC) test will provide counts of your white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets in a sample of your blood. If you have anaemia, your doctor will suggest additional tests to determine its type and whether it has a serious cause.
The normal haemoglobin levels are
- Men: 13.8 to 17.2 gm/dl
- Women: 12.1 to 15.1 gm/dl
- Children: 11 to 16 g/dl
- Pregnant women: 11 to 15.1 g/dl.
Treatment of anaemia
Anemia treatment depends on the specific diagnosis and its severity. Anaemia treatment includes
Iron deficiency anaemia
Taking iron supplements and medications, iron-rich food, blood transfusions, surgery, or even cancer treatment. Iron is given through an intravenous (IV) infusion mostly in chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Vitamin deficiency anaemia
Suggesting dietary supplements with folic acid and vitamin C. Increasing intake of these nutrients in the diet. If your digestive system is unable to absorb vitamin B-12 from the food you eat, your doctor might suggest vitamin B-12 shots.
Chronic disease-related anaemia
Managing the underlying disease, blood transfusions, or synthetic hormone injections to increase the production of red blood cells.
The only treatment for aplastic anaemia is a bone marrow transplant. Certain medications and blood transfusions are preferred to enhance red blood cell production.
Its management includes medicines, blood transfusions, plasmapheresis, surgical procedures, blood and marrow stem cell transplants, and lifestyle changes.
Sickle cell anaemia
The only management for sickle cell anaemia is a stem cell or bone marrow transplants.
Frequent blood transfusions, supplements of folic acid, chelation therapy and stem cell transplant.
Anaemia linked with bone marrow disorders
Therapy for this condition comprises chemotherapy, medication, or bone marrow transplantation.
Anaemia Dos and Don’ts
Anaemia is a common blood disorder in which there are few red blood cells or consists less amount of haemoglobin in the red blood cells. Follow its do’s and don’ts to manage or minimize its symptoms.
|Eat a nutritious diet||Eat refined and processed foods|
|Physical exercises||Eat foods with tannins like grapes, corn, or sorghum.|
|Stay fit and slim||Gain weight|
|Take vitamins and mineral supplements as recommended||Drink tea or coffee with meals|
|Get yourself diagnosed to detect underlying cause||Consume alcohol or smoke|
There are different types of anaemia and accordingly its cause and treatment also vary. The common anaemia symptoms are weakness, pale skin, difficulty in concentration and dizziness.
Anaemia Care at Medicover Hospitals
At Medicover, we have the best team of specialists doctors and haematologists who treat anaemia and its related complications. Our haematologists and other specialists conduct thorough diagnostic tests to investigate and diagnose the condition, based on which a treatment plan is developed. You would receive a highly personalized treatment for anemia from our team of experts.