Low levels of red blood cells are referred to as anemia. Anemia is diagnosed by a standard blood test by a low hematocrit or hemoglobin level. Your red blood cells’ primary protein is hemoglobin. It transports oxygen and distributes it all throughout your body. Your hemoglobin level will be low if you have anemia. Your tissues or organs might not get enough oxygen if it is low enough. Fatigue and breathlessness are anemia symptoms that result from your organs not receiving the nutrients they need to function properly.

In most part of the world, anemia is the most prevalent blood disorder. Almost 6% of people are impacted. In Africa, about 49% of the women are known to be anemic. Anemia is more common in women, young children, and people with chronic illnesses.

Important points to keep in mind are:

Infants may be born with certain types of this condition since it is a genetic condition.

Because of blood loss during periods and increased blood supply requirements during pregnancy, women are more likely to develop iron-deficiency anemia.

Older persons are more likely to have renal disease or other chronic medical disorders, which increases their chance of developing anemia.

Anemia comes in a variety of forms. Each has unique causes and cures. Some types, such as the mild anemia that develops during pregnancy, are not very dangerous. However, some forms of anemia may indicate a dangerous underlying medical issue.

Symptoms of anemia

You may not even be aware that you have anemia since the symptoms can be so subtle. As your blood cells start to go, symptoms often start to appear. The following symptoms may be present, depending on the etiology of the anemia:

  • Feeling lightheaded, woozy, or like you’re about to pass out
  • Unusual or rapid pulse
  • Headache
  • Pain in your bones, chest, belly, and joints is also common.
  • Issues with development in children and teenagers
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Having pale or yellow skin
  • Chilly fingers and toes
  • Weakness or fatigue.

Types and causes of anemia

There are three categories for the more than 400 different kinds of anemia:

  • As a result of blood loss anemia
  • Reduced or defective red blood cell synthesis leading to anemia
  • Red blood cell destruction-related anemia

Anemia Resulting from Blood Loss

Bleeding may cause red blood cell loss. You may not see this happening slowly over a lengthy period of time. Some causes include:

digestive disorders such ulcers, hemorrhoids, gastritis (stomach inflammation), and cancer

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines), which include aspirin and ibuprofen, may result in gastritis and ulcers,

a woman’s period, particularly if it’s a heavy one (or heavy period). This could be related to fibroids.

also post-trauma or post-surgery.

Anemia Resulting from Reduced or Defective Red Blood Cell Production

Your body may not produce enough blood cells or they may not function properly if you have this kind of anemia. This may occur if your red blood cells aren’t functioning properly or if you don’t have enough minerals and vitamins to support healthy red blood cell formation.

The following conditions are linked to these anemia-causing factors:

  • stem cell and bone marrow issues
  • Anemia due to a lack of iron
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Anemia caused by a vitamin deficiency, particularly b12 or folate
  • Your body may be unable to produce enough red blood cells due to issues with the bone marrow and stem cells.
  • Red blood cells may be created from some of the stem cells in the marrow that fills the middle of your bones. You might get anemia if your stem cells are insufficient, malfunction, or are replaced by other cells like cancer cells.

Anemia brought on by issues with the bone marrow or stem cells includes:

When there are insufficient or no stem cells, aplastic anemia develops. Aplastic anemia may be inherited or the result of pharmaceutical side effects, radiation, chemotherapy, or an infection that damaged your bone marrow. The bone marrow is also often affected by leukemia or multiple myeloma, among other cancers.

Sometimes, there’s no apparent cause of aplastic anemia.
poisoning by lead. Your bone marrow is toxic to lead, which reduces the number of red blood cells in your body. Adults who labor with lead may get poisoned, or children who consume lead paint chips may become poisoned. It may also spread if certain varieties of ceramics that aren’t properly glazed come into touch with your meals.

The condition thalassemia is caused by an issue in the development of four of the hemoglobin chains. You produce very little red blood cells, yet you may also produce enough to be asymptomatic or have serious symptoms. It often affects persons of Mediterranean, African, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian origin and is inherited via your genes. The most severe type of this illness, known as Cooley’s anemia, may vary in severity from moderate to life-threatening.

You get iron-deficiency anemia when your body doesn’t have enough of the mineral iron. To manufacture hemoglobin, the component of the red blood cell that carries oxygen to your organs, your bone marrow requires iron.

Causes of iron deficient anemia include:

  • Lack of iron in the diet, particularly in young children, teenagers, vegans, and vegetarians
  • a few medications, meals, and caffeinated beverages
  • digestive illnesses including Crohn’s disease, as well as having had your stomach or small intestine partially removed
  • frequent blood donation
  • endurance exercises
  • breastfeeding and pregnancy deplete your body’s iron stores
  • Menstruation
  • Chronic slow bleeding, often from a gastrointestinal source, is a prevalent cause.

Sickle cell anemia is a condition that mostly affects African and Hispanics. A flaw in your DNA causes your red blood cells, which are typically rounded, to take on a crescent form. When red blood cells degrade rapidly, oxygen cannot reach your organs, resulting in anemia. Additionally, the red blood cells’ crescent form may cause discomfort when it becomes lodged in small blood veins.

Vitamin-deficiency – When you don’t receive enough folate and vitamin B12, anemia might develop. To create red blood cells, you need these two vitamins. This kind of anemia may result from:

Dietary deficiency: You could not obtain enough vitamin B12 if you consume little or no meat. You could not receive enough folate if you overcook or undereat veggies.

When you don’t obtain enough vitamin B12, folate, or both, you get megaloblastic anemia.

When your body doesn’t absorb enough vitamin B12, you get pernicious anemia.

Intestinal illnesses such tropical sprue, prescription drugs, and alcohol addiction are among other factors that contribute to vitamin deficiencies.

Inflammation that has been present for a while is often present when anemia is linked to other chronic illnesses. The generation of immature red blood cells in the bone marrow is slowed in several different ways by inflammatory substances.

These health issues may result in this kind of anemia:

  • Persistent kidney disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • older age
  • Chronic illnesses such rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, diabetes, and cancer

Red Blood Cell Destruction as a Cause of Anemia

Hemolytic anemia is the result of fragile red blood cells that can’t withstand the pressure of moving through your body and may rupture. This disorder could be present from birth or develop later. The exact causes of hemolytic anemia are sometimes unknown, although they may include:

  • An immune system assault, such as in lupus. Anyone may experience this, even a newborn or a kid still in the womb. That is referred to as infant hemolytic disease.
  • Genetically inherited illnesses such sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP)
  • Expanded spleen Rarely, this might capture red blood cells and prematurely kill them.
  • Something that strains your body, including illnesses, medications, snake or spider venom, or certain cuisines
  • Progressive liver or renal disease-related toxins
  • Tumors, severe burns, exposure to specific chemicals, vascular grafts, artificial heart valves, clotting issues, and severe burns

Diagnosis of Anemia:

Your red blood cells, hemoglobin, and other components of your blood will be measured during a complete blood count (CBC) test. After the CBC, your doctor will inquire about your family history and medical background. They’ll likely conduct many tests, including:

To count your white blood cells, examine the morphology of your red blood cells, and search for odd cells, do a blood smear or differential.

To check for immature red blood cells, do a reticulocyte count.

Management of Anemia

Your anemia type will determine how you are treated. There are several reasons, which means there are numerous viable therapies.

You may need medication, blood transfusions (in which you get blood from another person), or a bone marrow transplant (in which you receive stem cells from a donor) if you have aplastic anemia.

It’s possible that you may require medicine to suppress your immune system if you have hemolytic anemia. You can get a recommendation from your primary care physician for a vascular issues specialist.

If blood loss is the root of the problem, surgery may be necessary to locate and stop the bleeding. You’ll probably need to take iron supplements and alter your diet if you have iron-deficiency anemia.

Treatment options for sickle cell anemia include oxygen therapy, folic acid supplements, opioids, and sporadic antibiotics. To lessen sickle cell pain crises, a medication called hydroxyurea (Droxia, Hydrea, Siklos) is often administered (complicated mechanism). Voxelator (Oxbryta), a drug, may assist your red blood cells maintain their ideal form. Adakveo (crizanlizumab-tmca) may prevent blood cells from adhering to one another and obstructing blood arteries. L-glutamine oral powder (Endari) may reduce the number of times you visit the hospital for discomfort while also protecting you against acute chest syndrome.

If you don’t get enough folate or vitamin B12, you’ll need to take supplements.

If your condition is severe, you could require blood transfusions, a bone marrow transplant, or surgery. Thalassemia is often not treatable.