Anemia - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Alternative names :- Anemia - iron deficiency
Millions of Americans suffer from anemia, a reduction in either the number of red blood cells or the amount of hemoglobin in the blood. This results in a decrease in the amount of oxygen that the blood is able to carry. Anemia reduces the amount of oxygen available to the cells of the body. As a result, they have less energy available to perform their normal functions. Important processes, such as muscular activity and cell building and repair, slow down and become less efficient. When the brain lacks oxygen, dizziness may result, and mental faculties are less sharp.
Types of anemia
Anemia is not a disease, but rather a symptom of various diseases. Anything that causes a deficiency in the formation or production of red blood cells, or that leads to the too-rapid destruction of red blood cells, can result in anemia. It is sometimes the first detectable sign of arthritis, infection, or certain major illnesses, including cancer. Drug use, hormonal disorders, chronic inflammation in the body, surgery, infections, peptic ulcers, hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, heavy menstrual bleeding, repeated pregnancies, liver damage, thyroid disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, bone marrow disease, and dietary deficiencies (especially deficiencies of iron, folic acid, and vitamins B6 and B12) can all lead to anemia. There are also a number of hereditary disorders, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, that cause anemia. Sickle cell anemia affects about 31,000 people (mostly of African-American descent) in the United States. It is a rare, inherited blood disease that causes red blood cells to become brittle and crescent-shaped. Painful "crises" arise when affected cells become jammed in narrow blood vessels, producing painful swelling of the hands and feet accompanied by fever, fatigue, and pneumonia-like symptoms.
Pernicious anemia is a severe form of anemia that is due to vitamin B12 deficiency. Persons with this disorder cannot absorb any form of vitamin B12 from the gastrointestinal tract. Malabsorption can cause pernicious anemia, as can poor eating habits, gastrointestinal infection, Crohn's disease, gastric surgery, and sometimes even strict vegetarianism. If B12 levels fall too far, the result is lagging energy, depression, indigestion, diarrhea, and anemia. Ongoing vitamin B12 deficiency carries a risk of neurological damage.
Causes of anemia
The most common cause of anemia is iron deficiency. Iron is an important factor in anemia because this mineral is used to make hemoglobin, the component of red blood cells that attaches to oxygen and transports it. Red blood cells exist only to oxygenate the body, and have a life span of about 120 days. If a person lacks sufficient iron, the formation of red blood cells is impaired. Iron-deficiency anemia can be caused by insufficient iron intake and/or absorption, or by significant blood loss. The latter is commonly seen in women who suffer from menorrhagia (heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding), which in turn may be caused by a hormonal imbalance, fibroid tumors, or uterine cancer. Women who use intrauterine devices for contraception are also at a higher risk of blood loss, as are those who overuse anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen, which can cause blood loss through irritation of the digestive tract. Excessive aspirin usage, particularly by elderly people, may cause internal bleeding.
Signs and symptoms of anemia
Anemia's symptoms can easily go unrecognized. The first signs of developing anemia may be loss of appetite, constipation, headaches, irritability, and/ or difficulty in concentrating. Established anemia can produce such symptoms as weakness; fatigue; coldness of the extremities; depression; dizziness; overall pallor, most noticeable in pale and brittle nails; pale lips and eyelids; soreness in the mouth; and in women, cessation of menstruation. Anemia has also been linked to a loss of libido. Of those suffering from anemia, 20 percent are women and 50 percent are children.
Anemia should always be investigated and the cause determined. If you are anemic and your diet is ironclad, your physician can run a simple test called ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) to detect any inflammation lurking in the body.
Treatment for anemia (iron deficiency)
Considerations and prevention tips
Vitamins || Feedback || Nutritional Blog ||
(c)Copyright Vitamins-minerals-supplements All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: Material provided on vitamins-minerals-supplements.org website is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Always take the advice of your doctor before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this web site.