Anemia is a global blood disorder. In the United States 2-10% of the population suffers from varying degree and type of anemia. It ensues as a result of shortness of blood in human beings. Signs of anemia may go undetected over the entire lifetime if present in a mild form. The blood is made up of red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells and platelets.
The red blood cells (RBC) outnumber the others and also are the most important ones. Only they are capacitated to carry oxygen from the heart and distribute it to the different parts of the body. Anemia symptoms develop when for some reason the RBC count decreases. This leads to impairment of oxygen supply to the vital organs and cause damage or chronic anemia. Hemoglobin of 12+ in women and 13+ in men is considered normal.
Signs of Anemia
The ailment is prevalent in young women than men or older ladies. This is happens due the loss of menstrual blood. RB cells have a life expectancy of about 100 days. Red blood cells are formed in the bone marrow and if some reason the marrow is not able to manufacture a sufficient number of RBC, signs and symptoms of anemia are manifested. Signs of anemia appear mainly due to:
- Heavy and sudden loss of blood
- Inability of the body to build red blood cells quickly or in sufficient number
- Cell destruction on a large scale (hemolysis)
All the anemia causes decrease proper blood supply and lead the patient to feel:
- Light headed
- Run out of breath, palpitation of the heart
- Look pale
In more severe cases, anemic symptoms are of more serious kind like heart attack, dizziness, fainting. The chronic anemia can be categorized as stemming from nutritional or non-nutritional disorders. Anemia symptoms are best indicators of the type of the disorder:
Iron deficiency anemia- Iron is the most important component present only in red blood cells which increases its ability to carry oxygen. When our body is deficient in iron, the red blood cells lose their power to function normally. Iron deficiency anemia can be rectified by taking iron supplement and a diet rich in iron.
Vitamin B12 deficiency - Pernicious anemia occurs when there is insufficient amount of vitamin, affecting the nervous system and the liver. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause irreversible damage to the brain.
Anemia causes can be due to deficiency of other essential vitamins or minerals. Usually anemia symptoms are very mild and are simply ignored.
The second type is associated with body's inability to produce RBC in enough number, shape, size or color:
Sickle cell anemia - The normal blood cell is disc shaped but due to an abnormality, the body begins to produce crescent shaped ones. In cases of sickle cell anemia, the flow is affected due to the sticky, difficult to move cells. This hinders the natural flow of blood and oxygen distribution.
Once the signs and symptoms of anemia have been examined by laboratory tests, appropriate anemia treatment can be started under a doctor's supervision. The patient too can take anemia treatment by following simple dietary methods.
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