Anemia Causes and Treatment
Anemia is a blood condition that affects approximately 3.5 million Americans. Women are at higher risk of developing anemia than men. People who have other diseases such as cancer have a higher inclination to develop anemia. Anemia can become a very serious condition which can be dangerous. Anemia can also be acute or chronic in character. Definition: You body requires a certain amount of oxygen to function properly. Red blood cells contain a substance known as hemoglobin which acts as a binder to oxygen. The red blood cells take the oxygen from your lungs and bring it to the rest of your body. Anemia occurs when you do not have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin to produce sufficient oxygen. As a consequence, your organs are affected because they don’t get enough oxygen to function. There is a relationship between anemia and the kidneys, bone marrow and nutritional deficiencies in the body. When the kidneys are not working well or you are malnourished, this will affect your red blood cell count. Since red blood cells are made in the bone marrow the health of bone marrow is very important.
Types of Anemia: There are truly over 400 different types of anemia placed into three groups. Anemia caused by blood loss: This is anemia that is directly credited to blood loss. This can be unnoticed for a long period of time. It could be due to ulcers, gastritis or cancer. Anemia caused by deficient red blood cell production: Sometimes the body does not produce enough red blood cells. This can create anemia. There are many causes for this such as a vitamin/mineral deficiency, an inner disease such as cancer, problems with the bone marrow or sickle cell anemia. Anemia caused by iron deficiency: This is due to insufficient iron levels in the body. When there is not enough iron, the bone marrow cannot produce enough hemoglobin for the red blood cells and this can consequence in anemia. Some causes of this kind of anemia include not having enough iron in your diet, menstruation, pregnancy and breast feeding in addition as digestive conditions such as Crohn’s disease. If the anemia is from deficient production of red blood cells in the bone marrow is can take on several forms. Thalassemia: This is when the red blood cells cannot mature on their own. Thalassemia: This is a genetic condition affecting mostly people of Mediterrean and African descent. Aplastic anemia: This is deficient red blood cells in bone marrow from injury from medications,infection or chemotherapy. Anemia can also consequence from conditions such as kidney disease and cancer.
shared Symptoms: There are various symptoms associated with anemia. Some shared symptoms of anemia include fatigue, being short of breath and feeling lightheaded. Additional symptoms include difficulty sleeping, rapid heartbeat and low blood pressure. You can also appear jaundiced and have brittle nails. Dietary Considerations: There are numerous dietary changes that may help you with your anemia. If you are a vegetarian you may not getting adequate levels of B12. You may want to consider supplementing. Red meat has higher iron levels than fish or chicken so be sure to include some in your diet. Being well hydrated is also important. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach have higher iron levels in addition as beans. You should limit your intake of sugars which will ultimately deplete your energy levels. There are certain foods such as eggs and whole grain bread can block the complete absorption of iron in your body. Tea and coffee also can have this effect due to the polyphenols that they contain. If you take iron supplements try to drink or eat fruits such as orange juice. Vitamin C helps in the absorption of iron.
Diagnosis: To find out if you have anemia you need to see your doctor who will perform various tests on you. These will include a physical exam and well as extensive blood work. A medical history will also be performed. You will be asked questions about your family history, if you have been diagnosed with anemia before and any medical conditions you have. They will observe your physical turn up and look for the tell tale signs of anemia. This diagnosis will help the doctor to see what kind of anemia you have. The blood tests will estimate what your red blood cell count is and the actual hemoglobin content in the red cells. There are also specialized blood tests to see how fragile your red blood cells may be or if there is an immune attack happening on them. Some of the shared blood tests include a Complete Blood Count and Blood Smear tests. They will also check for iron levels, folate and b12 levels. These nutrients are basic to the production of red blood cells. Additionally the doctor may perform liver and kidney function testing to see if there is an inner disease that is causing the anemia.
Treatments: Once the doctor determines the cause he or she will begin a treatment program for you. Here are some causes along with their treatment protocol. Blood Loss: the source of the bleeding will be determined and stopped. For example you may be given a blood transfusion and iron to build up your red blood cell count. Iron Deficiency: If you have inadequate iron levels you most likely will be prescribed iron supplements. Do not do this on your own but under the care of a physician because consuming too much iron can be dangerous. Red blood cell destruction: Known as hemolytic anemia, there are various causes for it. So the treatment would of course depend on the cause. Follow up care: You need to stay under your doctor’s care and have repeated blood work done to determine if the anemia has gone away. Your response to the treatments prescribed will determine what the next steps are to take. The hopeful outcome is that you have conquer your anemia. If not, with continued care over time you should be able to do so. Before doing any dietary or lifestyle changes always consult with your health care provider, particularly if you have been diagnosed with a disease or are taking any prescription medication.