Know the basics
What is anemia?
Anemia refers to a condition that makes your body suffer from an insufficient amount of hemoglobin (healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen to your whole tissues). If you have anemia, your body will not get enough oxygen to function properly.
There are many types of anemia. The most common ones are:
- Iron deficiency anemia. As the name suggests, iron deficiency anemia occurs when your body lacks iron. Without iron, your bone marrow cannot produce enough hemoglobin.
- Vitamin deficiency anemia. Healthy red blood cells also need folate and vitamin B12 to be produced. In some cases, the person may sufficiently yet unable to process the vitamin.
- Aplastic anemia. This is a rare, life-threatening form of anemia, which is induced by infections, toxic exposure, and even medications.
- Hemolytic anemia. You can get this kind of anemia if your body destroys red blood cells faster than it produces. It could be inherited or develop in later life.
- Sickle cell anemia. This condition is hereditary. It causes red blood cells shift to a sickle, rigid shape, which make it hard for them to travel inside blood vessels. The result is pain and tissue damage.
It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of anemia?
Possible symptoms of anemia include fatigue, weakness, pale complexion, abnormal heart rate, breathing difficulties, dizziness, chest pain, cold hands and feet and headache. Anemia tends to be unnoticeable at first. The symptoms will get more severe as anemia progresses.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes anemia?
The main cause of anemia is the lack of red blood cells. This often occurs when your body cannot produce enough red blood cells or you are losing them through bleeding. Sometimes, your own body may destroy red blood cells, resulting in anemia.
Besides, anemia can be caused by many other chronic illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and bone marrow disease.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for anemia?
You may have a higher risk of anemia if:
- Your diet lacks iron, folate, and vitamin B12.
- You have intestinal disorders that affect your ability to process nutrients.
- You are a woman with menstruation.
- You are pregnant.
- You have one of the chronic conditions mentioned above.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is anemia diagnosed?
If you are exhibiting signs of anemia, it is advisable to visit your doctor for a full diagnosis since anemia can be an indicator of much more severe illness.
Anemia can be diagnosed by family-based history, blood tests to check for any abnormality in your red blood cells. Once you are diagnosed with anemia, you may need further examination to check for underlying medical conditions.
How is anemia treated?
If your anemia is the result of iron or vitamin deficiency, the treatment will probably be taking supplements to make up for the shortage. However, if you have other underlying problems, your doctor will likely focus on treating the underlying problems. You may be prescribed medication that helps ease the symptoms.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage anemia?
Whether your condition is temporary or permanent, you can still manage it with proper medications and a healthy diet.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment
Review Date: September 14, 2016 | Last Modified: December 11, 2019
Slideshow: A Visual Guide to Anemia http://www.webmd.com/women/ss/slideshow-anemia-overview . Accessed September 3, 2016.
Understanding Anemia -- the Basics http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/understanding-anemia-basics Accessed September 3, 2016.
Anemia. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anemia/home/ovc-20183131 . Accessed September 3, 2016.