Anaemia is a condition which leads to decrease in the total amount of red blood cells (RBCs) or haemoglobin in the blood, or a lowered ability of the blood to carry oxygen. This can cause fatigue and affect the ability of a person to do work.
Anaemia is the most common blood disorder, affecting about a third of the global population. There are many different types of anaemia viz. iron deficiency anaemia, vitamin deficiency anaemia, anaemia of chronic disease, aplastic anaemia, anemias associated with bone marrow disorders, hemolytic anaemia, and sickle cell anaemia.
Iron-deficiency Anaemia affects nearly 1 billion people and is more common in women than men, during pregnancy, and in children and the elderly.
A person with anaemia usually will feel tired and weak most of the time. It can be confirmed by blood tests.
How does Anaemia affect your body?
Anaemia decreases the number of red blood cells in the blood which eventually decrease the amount of haemoglobin (Hb). Hb enables red blood cells to carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body and to carry carbon dioxide from other parts of the body to your lungs so that it can be exhaled.This decrease the ability of blood to carry oxygen increasing the work load on heart.
What are the causes of Anaemia?
Anaemia can be caused by blood lose because of trauma or gastrointestinal bleeding.
Decreased or faulty red blood cell production due to iron or vitamin deficiency also cause anaemia.
Destruction of red blood cells like in sickle cell Anaemia, infections like malaria, and certain autoimmune diseases also cause anaemia.
What are the risk factors of Anaemia?
These factors place you at an increased risk of Anaemia:
- A diet lacking in vitamins like B12.
- Intestinal disorderssuch as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease.
- Menstruation because it causes the loss of red blood cells.
- Chronic conditions like cancer, kidney failure can lead to a shortage of red blood cells.
- Family history.
- People over age 65 are at increased risk of anaemia.
What are the symptoms of Anaemia?
- Pale or yellowish skin
- Irregular heartbeats
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Chest pain
- Cold hands and feet
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How is Anaemia diagnosed?
Following tests are performed to diagnose anaemia:
Complete blood count (CBC) is used to count the number of blood cells in a sample of blood. For anaemia the levels of the red blood cells contained in the blood (hematocrit) and the haemoglobin in your blood.
A test to determine the size and shape of red blood cells. Some RBCs may also be examined for unusual size, shape and color.
Additional tests to determine the underlying cause like in case of iron deficiency,Anaemia can result from chronic bleeding of ulcers, benign polyps in the colon, colon cancer, tumors or kidney problems.
Also read: Malnutrition Diagnosis
How to prevent and control Anaemia?
- Iron and vitamin deficiency anaemia can be avoided by having a diet that includes iron and vitamin B12 and C.
- Beware of symptoms of Anaemia like fatigue, numbness or coldness in hands and feet, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, irritability, etc.
- Check your medications; certain medicines may lead to anaemia such as NSAIDs, penicillin, quinidine, levofloxacin, etc.
- Not every anaemia can be treated with proper diet; decrease in RBCs can also be cause by other types of anaemia. Consult a doctor before the symptoms get adverse.
Treatment of Anaemia
Aplastic anaemia and thalassemia may be treated with blood transfusions.
Supplements of iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, or other vitamins and minerals can treat anaemia caused by iron, vitamin or folate deficiency.
Various other anaemias may be treated with medicines such as-
- Alglucerase injection
- Carbonyl Iron
- Ferrous Ammonium Citrate
- Ferrous Fumarate
- Iron Dextran
- Ferrum phosphoricum– Helps in providing the natural iron and in forming the red blood cells haemoglobin pigment of the blood.
- Calcarea Phosphoricum– Helps in giving the strength to the bones and in curing the debility and weakness which is generally developed by the loss of iron from the body.
- Calcarea flour– Helps in boosting up the energy and in higher absorption of iron in the blood. It also helps in lowering the symptoms of anaemia which is better in forming the haemoglobin.
- Kali phosphoricum– Helps by providing the strength to the nerves and also helps in providing the relief from the vertigo and headache.
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Anaemia – Lifestyle Tips
- Avoid tea or coffee after taking iron supplements.
- Do not practice exercise for longer hours; mild exercise for 10 to 30 minutes is enough for anaemic patients.
- Practice a healthy diet rich in iron, vitamin.
What are recommended exercise for person with Anaemia?
10-15 minutes of brisk walk.
Anaemia & pregnancy- Things to know
- Pregnant women are always at risk of anaemia. Amount of blood is increased during pregnancy to support the growth of foetus.
- Anaemia can cause decrease in healthy red blood cells which carry oxygen to tissues and to the baby.
- Anaemia during pregnancy can arise due to deficiency of iron, folate or vitamin B12.
- This can increase the risk of preterm or low-birth weight baby, blood transfusion, baby with anaemia or neural birth defect and postpartum depression.
- During pregnancy, several blood tests are done especially during second and third trimester. In case of anaemia, iron/folate/vitaminB12 supplements are prescribed.
Common complications related to Anaemia
- Anaemia can cause severe fatigue, making it difficult to complete everyday tasks.
- Pregnant women with folate deficiency anaemia may experience complications such as premature birth.
- Anaemia can lead to heart to pump more blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the blood which can cause an enlarged heart or heart failure.
- Some inherited anaemias can be serious, such as sickle cell anaemia and lead to life-threatening complications.