Anemia is a surprisingly common condition and is considered one of the most common blood disorders in the United States. Affecting over 24% of the world’s total population, treatment, diagnosis, and symptoms are easily recognizable by doctors everywhere. To learn more about anemia and how it develops, read on:
What is Anemia?
Anemia is a blood disorder characterized by a low red blood cell count. Since red blood cells are vital in delivering oxygen through the bloodstream, a low cell count can leave people with anemia feeling sluggish, tired, or weak. Anemia comes in many forms, some of which are temporary and some that last for years. Because of this, treatment for the various types of anemia tend to differ.
Anemia is most often spotted first by its symptoms. Fatigue, weakness, and dizziness are some of the most noticeable traits. Still, other symptoms include headaches, cold hands or feet, chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, and pale, sometimes yellowish skin. A good rule of thumb to go by when it comes to reaching a diagnosis is to visit your doctor if you are feeling unnaturally tired or dizzy. Doctors detect anemia through blood tests, so fast action is best.
Types of Anemia
The different types of anemia are as follows:
Anemia Caused by Pregnancy
In some cases, pregnant people can develop anemia during their pregnancy. This may be caused by an iron deficiency or other vitamin deficiencies during the second and third trimesters.
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron deficiencies are the most common cause of anemia, as iron is a necessary mineral the body uses to produce red blood cells. Iron deficiency anemia can be caused by blood loss, usually from giving blood, but it can also be caused by inadequate iron absorption.
Vitamin Deficiency Anemia
Similar to iron deficiency anemia, low amounts of Vitamin B12 cause vitamin deficiency anemia. Low B12 levels may be caused in turn by poor diet or gastrointestinal problems that result in low B12 absorption rates.
Aplastic anemia is a rare type of anemia that stems from bone marrow. Bone marrow is tasked with producing the body’s blood cells, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. When the bone marrow does not produce enough blood cells, aplastic anemia occurs.
Hemolytic anemia occurs when red blood cells are broken up in the bloodstream or the spleen. In some cases, it may be caused by other conditions such as autoimmune disorders, leaky heart valves, infections, or abnormalities in the blood cells themselves.
Sickle Cell Anemia
This type of anemia occurs within the red blood cells themselves, as the condition causes the body to produce abnormally shaped red blood cells. These abnormal cells are much more rigid in texture and tend to be misshapen enough to get stuck in the body’s smaller blood vessels.
Disease-Based anemia is the catch-all term for anemia that is caused by other diseases. These diseases will typically affect the body’s ability to produce red blood cells in some way.
How it Develops
Anemia most often develops over time, and its risk factor is based on several things. Diet, intestinal disorders, chronic diseases, infections, and even heritage can increase someone’s risk of developing anemia. Other conditions that may increase someone’s risk include autoimmune disorders, cancer, kidney diseases, liver diseases, and thyroid diseases.
There are just as many ways to treat anemia as there are ways it can develop. For vitamin and iron deficiency anemias, dietary supplements are the best ways to treat anemic symptoms. With aplastic anemia, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, and in some cases, medication are effective treatment options. Hemolytic anemia treatments may involve medication changes or the use of immunosuppressants. For sickle cell anemia, patients will need oxygen, pain relievers, and extra fluids to help prevent complications. Doctors may also recommend a blood transfusion as well.
If you or a loved one feels unnaturally tired, weak, or dizzy, speak with your doctor as soon as possible. To browse diagnostic materials or accessories for treatment, visit the Medical Supply Depot.