Anemia is a blood disorder. Usually it is the red blood cells that are affected, these are produced in the bone marrow & haemoglobin – this is the oxygen carrying component of red blood cells, it distributes oxygen around the body to provide energy.
Marrow produces 2 million red blood cells per second (with a life expectancy of approximately 120 days), and if the rate of production is decreased or there is an increased loss of red blood cells, this results in a lack of oxygen reaching the tissues, and produces the classic symptoms of anemia: lack of energy, fainting fits, and skin pallor.
There are a number of causes, with the most common cause being an iron deficiency. Iron is a mineral that is an essential ingredient in haemoglobin as it attracts the oxygen to the blood. When iron is reduced in the blood stream, this leads to a shortage of oxygen. The deficiency is often the result of eating wrong foods, and not being fed sufficient quantities of iron as part of your diet. Iron supplements can help, or an injection from your doctor and also good food sources.
It can also be caused by severe blood loss – particularly women, due to heavy monthly menstruation, or heavy blood loss through cuts, peptic ulcers.
The problem also occurs during pregnancy, when the mother loses iron during the development of the foetus.
Chronic disease and certain kidney disease can also cause anemia. Where instead of passing iron through the bone marrow, it is held in the tissues, resulting in a lack of iron and hence reducing the production of red blood cells.
Pernicious anemia occurs when the stomach lining fails to produce a substance called intrinsic factor. Vitamin B12 is only absorbed with the help of the intrinsic factor, and if this secretion halts, the red cell production is reduced – hence causing this anaemic condition.
Perhaps the most serious is Aplastic anemia. Those occurs when fails to produce red and white blood cells. This appears to be brought about by chemicals in medicines or by cancer. this causes the body tissues to lose their source of oxygen, and also its ability to fight off infection.
- Iron Deficiency: lethargy, pallor, & breathlessness, sometimes accompanied by palpitations. Some cases will cause fainting, dizziness, & sweating.
- Pernicious anemia may also include pins & needles, and nosebleeds. Children may show signs of irritability & hold their breath, and may be accompanied by jaundice, thirst & loss of control.
- Aplastic anemia can develop slowly, becoming obvious weeks or months after exposure to poison. It has all the normal symptoms and is accompanied by infections.
The World Health Organisation defines the normal ranges of Iron for women as 120-160 grams per litre and for men as 130-170 grams per litre.
Good sources of Iron include: Beef & Chicken Liver, Beef, Chicken, Veal, Turkey, Pork, Oysters, Salmon, Tuna, Wholemeal bread, Cereals, Eggs, Lentils, Peas, Baked Beans, & Dried Fruits.
|Iron Deficiency||Heavy Menstrual loss, acute blood loss, bleeding ulcer, poor diet||Iron tablets/injection – over several months|
|Pernicious Anemia||Failure of stomach lining to secrete substance called intrinsic factor||Vitamin B12 injections – 1 per month|
|Aplastic Anemia||Bone marrow fails to make required number of red blood cells, can be brought on by cancer||Antibiotics & transfusions, drug treatment on bone marrow & bone marrow transplant|
|Anemia of Chronic Disease||Certain kidney diseases and some other chronic complaints||Anemia disappears after treatment of underlying disease|
|Sickle-cell anemia||Defective red blood cells; genetic||Transfusion, occasionally drugs|
|Haemolytic (many Types)||Red cells are killed off too early or in great numbers in the spleen||Drugs or removal of spleen|
|Thalassaemic||Defective haemoglobin; genetic||Regular transfusions, occasionally removal of spleen|
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