Anaemia Facts You Should Know Today

Whenever circulating red blood cells are decreasing in number, anaemia can be said to have occurred. It is a blood disorder that is very common. Some of the symptoms are pale skin, chest pains and headaches.

Over 3 million people in the US are affected by anaemia. The number of people who are affected all over the world is about 1.62billion. It is mostly experienced due to failure of the body to produce red blood cells which are healthy as a result of the interference of other diseases. It should be noted that these people are affected by different types of anemia.

Anaemia facts

Below are some top anaemia facts:

  • The world’s population suffering from anaemia is about 24.8%
  • Pre – school children seems to be more susceptible or prone to this condition. All over the world, 47% of these children are suffering from anaemia
  • The forms or types of anemia which have been discovered are over 400
  • Apart from humans, dogs and cats can also suffer from anaemia

Symptoms

A major and notable symptom of anaemia is lack of energy (weakness) and feeling of fatigue. Other symptoms are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Light – headedness
  • Headache
  • Paleness of skin
  • Chest pain

Cases that are mild will usually have few symptoms. There are some types of anaemia which can be traced to some particular symptoms.

Aplastic anaemia – Skin rashes, frequent infections and fever

Folic acid deficiency anaemia – Smooth tongue, diarrhea, and irritability

Hemolytic anaemia – Dark colored urine, fever, abdominal pains, and jaundice

Sickle cell anaemia – Jaundice, fatigue, painful feet and hands swollenness

Causes of anaemia

Red blood cells are needed for the body to survive. This is because they tend to carry haemoglobin which is a form of protein that has iron molecules. Such molecules usually get oxygen transported from the lungs to other parts of the body. There are abnormal conditions which can bring about decreased amount of red blood cells in the body.

Anaemia is of different types and there isn’t any particular cause. This means pinpointing a single or particular cause is very difficult. Below is an overview of the major causes of anaemia (3 major groups). 

Blood loss

A major form of anaemia is iron deficiency anaemia. This is as a result of iron shortage in the body. It can result to loss of blood. Whenever the body tends to lose blood, there is reaction which can take the form of having to get water pulled from tissues which aren’t within the bloodstream. This is usually to ensure that the blood vessels are kept filled. It is additional water which will dilute the blood thereby leading to dilution of red blood cells.

Loss of blood can be rapid or chronic and acute.

An example of rapid blood loss is trauma, ruptured blood vessel, childbirth, or surgery

In anaemia cases, chronic blood loss seems to be very common. This can lead to tumor, cancer, or stomach ulcer.

Anaemia caused as a result of blood loss are:

  • Gastrointestinal conditions like gastritis, cancer, hemorrhoids or ulcers
  • Usage of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen, aspirin
  • Menstrual bleeding

Anaemia caused as a result of decrease in the production of red blood cell:

The bone marrow can be found at the centre of bones. It is a soft as well as spongy tissue. When it comes to red blood cell creation, it (bone marrow) can be very essential. This is because it is responsible for production of stem cells which will later become red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells.

The bone marrow can be affected by some abnormal conditions like leukaemia whereby there is an abnormal production of white blood cells in the body. This is going to disrupt or interfere with how red blood cells are produced.

Other types of anemia which are as a result of red blood cells that are faulty could be:

Sickle cell anaemia – Red blood cells can breakdown in an abnormal way. Whenever they get stuck inside those smaller blood vessels, such can bring about pains.

Iron – deficiency anaemia – When there is shortage of iron in the body, the red blood cells being produced will be few. This could be as a result of endurance training, frequent blood donation, menstruation, poor diet, some digestive conditions removing of the gut through surgery, Crohn’s disease and more. 

Stem cell issues

Aplastic anaemia can be experienced when there is no stem cell. Thalassemia anaemia occurs whenever red blood cells aren’t growing or getting matured.

Vitamin deficiency anaemia

Folate and vitamin B-12 are very important when it comes to red blood cell production. Such a process will not be effective when the body lacks any of them. Patients can suffer pernicious anaemia, and megaloblastic anaemia.

Anaemia as result of red blood cell destruction

The life span of red blood cells inside the bloodstream is 120 days. However, there are times they can get destroyed before such time span. Autoimmune haemolytic anaemia is perfect for this category. In this case, the body’s immune system begins to attack the red blood cells as a result of considering them to be foreign entities.

There are lots of causes which can be traced to breakdown of red blood cells. These could be:

  • Spleen enlargement
  • Clotting disorders
  • Vascular grafts
  • Hypertension (severe)
  • Autoimmune attack   
  • Toxins which are produced as a result of liver or kidney diseases
  • Spider or snake venom
  • Drugs like antibiotics
  • Infections

Treatment

The types of anemia have various forms of treatment. Their aim is to ensure that red blood cells are increased. This is going to get the oxygen that the blood transports increased. Treatments for anemia vary though and are based on the causes.

Iron deficiency anaemia

Dietary changes or iron supplements. If such condition is a result of blood loss, it is important the bleeding is found and treated.

Vitamin deficiency anaemia

The treatments can be shots of B-12 and dietary supplements.

Thalassemia

Treatments can be spleen removal, blood transfusion, bone marrow transplants and folic acid supplementation.

Chronic disease anaemia 

This is comes with a serious condition. There isn’t any specific method of treatment as the focus will be on such condition.

Aplastic anaemia

Patients will go through bone marrow transplants or receive blood transfusions

Sickle cell anaemia

Treatments can take the form of intravenous fluids, pain relief, and oxygen therapy. There can also be blood transfusions, folic acid supplements, and antibiotics. There is also the possibility of using Hydrea or Droxia.

Hemolytic anaemia

Medications which can make it become worse should be avoided. Immunosuppressant drugs can also be administered. There are cases whereby blood – filtering or plasmapheresis will be necessary.

Types

Anaemia types are over 400. These can all be grouped into 3 categories such as:

  • Anaemia due to blood loss
  • Anaemia due to poor red blood cell production
  • Anaemia due to red blood cell destruction

The types of anaemia in all of these categories are:

  • Pernicious anaemia
  • Cooley’s anaemia
  • Blood-loss anaemia
  • Iron deficiency anaemia
  • Vitamin deficiency anaemia
  • Sickle cell anaemia

Diet

Once nutritional deficiencies seem to be the cause of such anaemia, the symptoms can be alleviated through switch to iron – rich diet. This is one of the most effective treatments for anemia. Some of them are:

  • Dried fruits like prunes, raisins, and apricots
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • White and red meats
  • Brown rice
  • Pulses and beans
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Breads and cereals (iron – fortified)

Risk factor

Anaemia isn’t restricted to any particular age group or sex. However, risk of suffering from this condition can be increased by:

  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Menstruation
  • Preterm birth
  • 1 – 2 years of age
  • Minerals, iron and vitamins deficiencies
  • Loss of blood due to injury or surgery
  • Long term illness like cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, AIDs, liver disease, and heart failure

Outlook

Lots of anaemia cases can be improved or prevented through diet changes. There are some that are life threatening when not treated appropriately. It is advised that when someone is feeling weak persistent, the expertise of a medical doctor should be sought after. 

Diagnosis

Anaemia can be diagnosed in various ways. However, CBC (common blood count) seems to be most common. Through this, some of the blood components will be measured. These could be haemoglobin as well as hematocrit levels. The number of red blood cells can also be measured.

Through CBC, it can be determined whether someone is suffering from kidney disease or Leukaemia. Anaemia will likely be experienced when there is shortage of red blood cells, hematocrit and haemoglobin. For treatments for anemia to be very effective, there will need to be proper diagnosis.

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