What is Anemia ?

Anemia is a condition in which the number of healthy red blood cells in the body goes below the desired range. Red blood cells are one of the components of blood which provides oxygen to all of the body’s tissues. So, a low red blood cell count indicates that the amount of oxygen in your blood is lower than it should be.

Anemia is usually measured on the basis of the amount of hemoglobin present in the blood. Hemoglobin is the protein present within red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s vital tissues and organs. So, if the body has a low hemoglobin count, chances are high that the person might be anemic.

It is also believed that women and people with chronic diseases such as cancer have the highest risk of developing anemia. In women it’s high because of the regular loss of blood through menstruation.

Symptoms of anemia could be so mild that most of the time it goes unnoticed but as your red blood cells count decrease, symptoms often develop.

Some of the symptoms are:

  • Dizziness / lightheadedness
  • Fast or unusual heartbeats
  • Mild pain in joints
  • Growth problems in children and teens
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness

There are several causes of anemia:

  • Deficiency of Vitamin B12 and folate. Both are essential for the production of healthy RBCs. When the body doesn’t get enough of them, the quality as well as quantity of red blood cells starts degrading.
  • Bleeding is another cause through which the body loses more iron. The condition is common in women with heavy menstrual cycles.
  • Iron deficiency in the diet.
  • Decreased or faulty red blood cell production.
  • In most cases, anemia could be hereditary as well.

What are the different types of anemia ?

This type of anemia is defined by larger and fewer eukaryotes (red blood cells). It usually occurs when the cells are not formed appropriately. The condition affects the oxygen supply and the movement of cells.

Deficiency of Vitamin B12 and folate is the major cause of megaloblastic anemia, which are essential for the production of healthy red blood cells.

This type occurs when the iron store of the body drops too low to support healthy production of red blood cells. The cells are fewer and smaller than the normal range. Here are some causes of iron deficiency anemia.

  • Inadequate dietary iron
  • Impaired iron absorption
  • Bleeding, or loss of body iron in the urine

There are several tests through which the diagnosis of anemia can be done:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) – This test determines the number of red blood cells in your body.
  • Peripheral blood smear – The size and shape of your red blood cells are examined in this examination.
  • Hematocrit Test – It is a measurement of the amount of blood and red blood cells present in the body.
  • Hemoglobin Test – This test determines how much of the hemoglobin is present in your blood. The hemoglobin count will be low if you are anemic.
  • Serum Iron Test – It will determine the amount of iron present in the blood.
  • Reticulocyte count – This test determines the number of reticulocytes i.e.newly created red blood cells are known as reticulocytes. Your reticulocyte count will be low if you have iron or B12 deficient anaemia.

If it’s revealed in the tests that you have iron deficiency anaemia, you might need additional tests to figure out the cause behind it. Here are some of them –

  • Endoscopy – It is a procedure that examines the inside of the body to look for GI tract bleeding caused by ulcers, polyps, or other growths.
  • Ultrasound of the pelvis for uterine biopsy – This test can help you if you bleed a lot during your menstrual cycles.
  • Fecal Occult Blood Test – This test indicates the occurrence of intestinal haemorrhage.

If the anemic condition arises out of nutritional deficiencies then eating more iron-rich foods can help.

The following foods are high in iron.

  • Iron-fortified cereals and breads
  • Leafy green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and watercress
  • Pulses and beans
  • White or red meats
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fish
  • Tofu
  • Eggs
  • Dried fruits, including apricots, raisins, and prunes

For other conditions, there is a range of treatments. Each aims to increase the number of RBCs, which, in turn, increases the amount of oxygen in the blood.
Treatments can include dietary supplements and vitamin B-12 shots.
Folic acid supplements, iron chelation, and, for some people, blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants
Oxygen therapy, pain relief medication, and intravenous fluids.

Patients are our number one priority. We are committed to their health and wellbeing. It is this dedication that guides us to give our very best, and our multidisciplinary team of trained professionals work together to ensure quality care. If you’re showing any symptoms of Leukemia listed above, consult the team of experts at Haemato Oncology Care Centre (HOCC) without any delay.

Because Blood Count Matters, Count On Us.