What is Anemia?
Among the general public, anemia is thought of as a condition where you have lower than normal quantities of blood in your body. This is quite a vague and ambiguous definition for Anemia. In order to have a complete understanding of this term we must take a closer look at its definition.
Anemia is defined as a deficiency of either white blood cells, red blood cells or hemoglobin within the body, depending on the age, sex and attributes of the individual.
Prevalence of Anemia
Approximately 30% of the total world’s population is dealing with some sort of anemia. According to a study conducted, 61.3% of the women of Pakistan in reproductive age were found to be anemic, either mildly, moderately or severely.
Causes of Anemia
There is a large list of various factors which cause anemia.
- Diminished red blood cells / hemoglobin production
This can be due to:
Nutritional deficiencies (Iron vitamin B12, or Folate)
Some chronic diseases ( chronic inflammation, cancer)
Or congenital or acquired bone marrow defects (where blood cells are produced
Increased destruction of red blood cells
Hemolytic anemia is the term that we use for this condition that can have various predispositions such as:
- Malaria (quite common in our settings)
- Sickle cell disease
- Blood loss
Then the most common, but not so obvious cause is that can be either acute (sudden massive blood lose) or chronic (long term) blood loss
Acute blood lose can be due to :
Chronic blood loss can be due to :
any cancer in the gut
Ulcers or Tuberculosis etc.
The Most Common Anemia
There are many types of anemia, but the most common in the world is iron deficiency anemia (Ida). Sadly that is more concentrated in rural areas because of lack of Proper and adequate food supply. Pregnant women of reproductive age suffer from this type of anemia because of the restricted food supply.
Signs and Symptoms
Anemia can be seen in a number of ways that are difficult to understand and tackle. However, the most common ones are stated below
- Most commonly, anemia presents itself as shortness of breath because a HB deficient or Red Blood Cell deficient body is unable to properly transport oxygen to distant body parts. The body responds to this as shortness of breath and rapid breathing
- The skin changes that tell when a person can be anemic are: pallor (pale skin), cyanosis (blueness) of the fingers, Toes, lips etc.
- The person may experience increased fatigue.
- There is an increased tendency to eat inedible things. Such as clay glass paper etc.
- The fingernails become spooned and thumbed.
- Tongue and mouth gets sore every now and then.
- Hair is brittle.
All these signs and symptoms point to this condition that must be treated before it becomes irreversible.
Treatment and Prevention
Anemia is a condition. A sign of some underlying issue.
- IDA can be treated using iron supplements.
- Vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements can also do the job.
- Treat any visible or hidden blood loss.
- If deficiency is severe transfuse whole blood or packed RBCs.
- Transplant bone marrow in cases of thalassemia major or anemic due to cancer.
Having a balance and proper diet can prevent a number of ailments including anemia. In addition, a timely diagnosis and effective treatment can prevent further complications.
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