What is Anaemia?
Anaemia occurs when the level of red blood cells (RBC) or haemoglobin in your body is lower than the normal levels. Haemoglobin helps carry oxygen in the blood. The decreased levels deprive the body of sufficient oxygen. Anaemia is not a disease in itself; it is a result of some malfunction in the body.
Causes of Anaemia
Anaemia occurs when the blood does not have enough red blood cells or there is a deficiency of hemoglobin. This may be due to:
- Decreased production of RBCs in blood
- Increased blood loss
- Excessive damage of RBCs
Signs and Symptoms of Anaemia
The most common symptom of anaemia is fatigue and weakness. An anaemic person feels weak after short periods of exertion, as the body’s cells become deprived for oxygen. As the condition worsens, the body can experience visible changes in skin, nails and bleeding from cuts may take longer to stop.
People suffering from mild anaemia may not show any symptoms generally or may have only mild symptoms. But those suffering with severe condition can produce visible signs and symptoms. The symptoms may vary depending on the type of anaemia. The common symptoms of anemia are:
- Shortness of breath
- Cold hands and feet
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Pale skin
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Leg cramps
Diagnosis of Anemia
Anemia is diagnosed based on your personal and family histories, a physical exam, and the results from tests and procedures. Your doctor may ask questions such as whether you have any of the common signs or symptoms of anemia. He may ask whether you've had an illness or condition in the past that could cause anemia.
Your doctor will do a physical exam to find how severe the anemia is and to check for its possible causes. He may listen to your heart for an irregular heartbeat, listen to your lungs for uneven breathing, and feel your abdomen to check the size of liver and spleen. These observations will indicate the severity of anameia.
The first test generally used to diagnose anemia is a complete blood count (CBC). It measures your hemoglobin and hematocrit levels. A low level of hemoglobin or hematocrit is a sign of anemia. Other tests are hemoglobin electrophoresis, reticulocyte count, and tests for the level of iron in your blood and body.
Treatment of Anemia
Treatment options for anemia depend on the type, cause, and severity of the problem. Treatments may include dietary changes, supplements, medicines, procedures, or surgery to treat blood loss. The objective of treatment is to increase the amount of oxygen that your blood carries. This is done by increasing the red blood cell count and/or hemoglobin levels. If the anemia is more severe, your doctor may recommend a medical procedure such as blood transfusions and blood and marrow stem cell transplants. A blood transfusion is a safe procedure in which blood is given to the patient through an intravenous stream in the blood vessels. A blood and marrow stem cell transplant procedure is used to replace your ineffective stem cells with healthy stem cells from a donor. Stem cells are produced in the bone marrow and develop into red and white blood cells and platelets.
Mohd Salman is a medical science professional and is associated with DiseaseFix as a researcher. DiseaseFix develops health information modules for patients and provides a unique platform to allow access of summarized reliable information of a variety of types for diseases.