Anemia is commonly thought to be low blood count. Actually it is a condition in which there is deficiency of healthy red blood cells in the body. It is manifested by low hemoglobin level. Hemoglobin is that entity of blood which carries oxygen and thus provides it to all the parts and organ of the body through blood circulation process. Hence when there is low hemoglobin, less oxygen is provided to the body leading to tiredness.
It is diagnosed by performing a blood test called as complete blood count (CBC). You may be required to do tests to know iron/folic acid/vitamin B12 levels in your blood/body or some other tests and procedures as suggested by the doctor.
At Risk Population: - Anyone can get affected with anemia, may it be children, men or women.
The group which is more at risk of anemia are the women of child bearing age. This can be mainly due to the blood loss during menstrual period. During pregnancy anemia may occur due to reduced level of iron or folic acid in the body as the requirement increases and if the diet is low on these nutrients. Also, during initial months of pregnancy, the plasma (fluid) volume of the blood increases a lot and surpasses the red blood cell volume. Thus causing dilution of blood. In a study carried out in a hospital at Abakaiki, Ebonyi State, Nigeria, among 501 pregnant women, 283 (56%) were anemic at booking- out of which 196 (69.3%) being mildly anemic and 87 (30.7%) being moderately anemic. None being affected with severe anemia. This was according to the WHO criterion of minimum 11g/dl of hemoglobin for pregnant women used as a cut-off to define anemia.
Infants and children of 1 – 2 years of age are also at a higher risk as breast milk is deficient in iron and if the foods that they eat or choose to eat may be deficient in iron.
The most common reason behind anemia is decreased levels of iron in the body. The various causes include:-
Signs and Symptoms:-
Classic symptom is fatigue, among others are paleness of skin, shortness of breath, headache, giddiness and chest pain. Mild to moderate level of anemia may or may not show any signs or symptoms at all.
Anemia may lead to may lead to many health ailments. As it reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of blood, less oxygen is supplied to vital organs such as heart, lungs, brain, liver etc. This leads to damaging of the cells and tissues of these organs reducing their capacity to work and perform their functions.
Heart has to work doubly hard to pump out more blood to satisfy the oxygen requirement of the various parts and organs of the body which leads to arrhythmias i.e. abnormal rhythm of heart beats. If this continues, may cause heart damage and probably heart failure.
Eating a diet rich in iron, vitamins and minerals will definitely help prevent anemia. To avoid repeat episodes, such diet and/or supplements will help. Also, check with your doctor, because there are some types of medications which cause decreased iron, folic acid or vitamin B12 absorption and thus either those particular medications can be avoided or the timing can be changed as per the intake of your diet.
Some types of anemia cannot be prevented. These are the ones which are genetic such as sickle cell anemia. Consult your doctor immediately if you