Anemia is a medical condition that arises when there is a decreased number of red blood cells or when the red blood cells fail to perform their normal functions adequately. Oxygen is transported to your body by red blood cells, and it provides energy to your cells. If your red blood cells are not healthy and functioning correctly, your body cannot obtain the necessary energy to function. Although some types of anemia are minor and temporary, others may persist throughout life. If left untreated, anemia can be serious.
Anemia, the most common blood disorder, affects around 6% of people. It is more prevalent in women, young children, and those with chronic illnesses. The following are some essential points to consider:
- Anemia can be a genetic condition, and some infants may be born with it.
- Women are more likely to develop iron-deficiency anemia due to blood loss during periods and increased blood supply requirements during pregnancy.
- The likelihood of developing anemia increases with age, especially among older persons who have renal disease or other chronic medical conditions.
- Anemia comes in various types, each with its unique causes and treatments. While some types, such as the mild anemia that occurs during pregnancy, are not severe, others may indicate a severe underlying medical issue.
What is the function of red blood cells?
Your body produces three different types of blood cells: red blood cells, which carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body and carbon dioxide from the body back to the lungs, platelets, which aid in blood clotting. White blood cells combat infection.
Hemoglobin, a protein rich in iron that gives blood its red hue, is found in red blood cells. Red blood cells use hemoglobin to transport oxygen from the lungs to every part of the body and carbon dioxide from other regions of the body to the lungs for exhalation. Your bone marrow, a spongy substance found inside the spaces of many of your large bones, is where the majority of blood cells, including red blood cells, are regularly created.
What are the symptoms of anemia?
Anemia symptoms can be so subtle that you may not even realize you have it. As your blood cells decrease, symptoms tend to become more noticeable. The symptoms may vary depending on the cause of the anemia and may include:
- Feeling lightheaded, woozy, or like you're going to pass out
- Unusual or rapid heartbeat
- Pain in your bones, chest, belly, and joints is also common.
- Difficulties with growth in kids and teenagers
- Trouble with breathing
- Having pale or yellow skin
- Chilly fingers and toes
- Weakness or fatigue
How to diagnose anemia?
Your red blood cells, hemoglobin, and other components of your blood will be measured during a complete blood count (CBC) test. After the CBC, your doctor will inquire about your family history and medical background. They'll likely conduct several tests, including:
Using a blood smear or differential, you can analyze your red blood cells' morphology, count your white blood cells, and look for any odd cells and to detect immature red blood cells, perform a reticulocyte count.
How to medically treat anemia?
Your doctor will first evaluate if you have anemia brought on by a poor diet or a more serious medical condition. They might suggest that you see a hematologist, a doctor who focuses on blood diseases. Here are a few instances of typical anemia therapies:
If you have pernicious or iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor may advise modifying your diet or taking supplements.
Your healthcare professional will deal with the underlying ailment if your anemia is brought on by a persistent illness. To increase the formation of red blood cells, they could prescribe medicine.
Providers may use blood transfusions or drugs like immunosuppressants to treat anemias like aplastic anemia or hemolytic anemia, which occur when you have abnormal red blood cells.
How to test for anemia at-home
It is relatively easy and painless to get tested if you think you might be anemic. You can test even at home, yes. Your red blood cell count is measured and examined using a little blood sample for the fast anemia test. However, this is not a vein puncture sample. For the at-home test, all you have to do is prick your finger.
Results are frequently made available in about two minutes. You do not need to submit the sample! The results will show whether the red blood cell count is adequate, high, or inadequate. What do these findings imply?
Low levels could be a sign of a number of anemia-related illnesses, including iron and vitamin deficiency, pregnancy, Thalassemia, kidney disease, cancer, sickle cell anemia, and alcoholism. However, the test can't pinpoint any specific issue, just the level.
Although high blood cell counts are alarming, they also show that you are not anemic. There can be more underlying medical conditions that require a diagnosis. What results in an increase in red blood cell production? Numerous illnesses, such as lung or heart disease and Polycythemia vera, could cause the levels to rise (the condition causes you to produce too many red cells).
What can I do to manage anemia?
While some forms of anemia are minor and transient, others might be lifelong. Anemia can be managed in a number of ways, including:
- Maintaining a healthy diet: A poor diet is the main cause of anemia in humans. Inquire with your healthcare practitioner about other foods you should eat, including those high in iron.
- Exercise on a regular basis: Consult your healthcare physician for advice on safe workout techniques.
- Avoiding being exposed to particular chemicals: Hemolytic anemia may result from exposure to particular metals.
- Wash your hands frequently to prevent infection: Additionally, you might want to enquire with your doctor about immunizations that protect against common infections.
- Keeping your teeth clean and seeing the dentist frequently: Anemia due to iron deficiency might result in dental issues.
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