Anemia is a blood disorder in which the individual who has it has a lower than normal number of red blood cells in their blood. The person can also have anemia is the red blood cells they do have do not contain enough hemoglobin which is a iron-rich protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
If you have anemia you can become tired and if the anemia is severe or lasts for a long time you can suffer brain, heart and other organ damage. If the anemia is severe enough it can even cause death.
There are many names for anemia and many terms used to describe the condition such as iron-poor blood, having low blood or tired blood. There are also different types of anemia such as aplastic anemia, blood loss anemia, Cooley's anemia, Diamond-Blackfan anemia, Fanconi anemia, Folate- or folic acid-deficiency anemia, hemolytic anemia, iron-deficiency anemia, pernicious anemia, sickle cell anemia and also thalassemias.
What causes a person to develop anemia?
There are three main ways that a person can develop anemia: blood loss, lack of the production of red blood cells within the body, and high rates of red blood cell destruction. It is also possible for individuals to have anemia because they have more than one of these ways to develop anemia.
When a person suffers from blood loss such as when a woman has a particularly heavy menstrual period, or a person undergoes a surgical procedure and losses a lot of blood, suffers a trauma resulting in blood loss, has blood loss associated with cancer or has bleeding in the digestive or urinary tract a lot of blood can be lost that depletes the red blood cell volume in the body causing anemia.
If an individual lacks the red blood cell production it can be an acquired condition that you are not born with but that you develop or it can be an inherited condition that you are handed down genetically from your biological parents.
An acquired way of getting anemia would include chronic or ongoing diseases, hormones, diet, and also pregnancy. An inherited condition that causes anemia would be Aplastic anemia.
Your diet can cause anemia if your diet is deficient in iron. Your body needs the hormone erythropoietin in order to manufacture red blood cells. This hormone also stimulates the bone marrow to make red blood cells. If an individual is low on this hormone, erythropoietin, that can develop anemia.
Pregnancy can lead to anemia when the woman has a low iron count. When a woman is pregnant for the first 6 months of the pregnancy her body is producing more of the fluid portion of the blood called the plasma than she does the red blood cell part of the blood. This dilutes her blood-causing anemia. This is why during prenatal checkups she will have blood tests to determine if she is becoming anemic.
What are the signs and symptoms of anemia?
Fatigue is the most common sign of anemia so is being weak. Other signs that you may have anemia include being short of breath, becoming dizzy, having headaches, having cold hands and feet, a pale skin, and feeling pain in your chest.
These signs happen when you have anemia because your heart has to work harder to pump the blood through your body. If you have very mild or even moderate anemia you may not even notice any signs of the disorder.
You can experience complications from anemia if the anemia goes untreated or is chronic or severe anemia. Complications include heart arrhythmias.
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