August 17, 2022
Anemia - Types , causes and management
Anaemia can be defined as a condition in which someone lacks enough healthy red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to that person's body's tissues

Definition of Anaemia – define anaemia

In this post am going to write and try to illustrate to you about Anaemia.  Anaemia can be defined as a condition in which someone lacks enough healthy red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to that person’s body’s tissues. Oxygen is very important to the body. It is used by the body for metabolism, which produces ATP energy, therefore having anaemia can make you feel tired and weak.

what is anaemia

There are many types of Anaemia and each one has its pathophysiology. What you have to know is that anaemia can be long term or short term and it can be a sign of a disease. For example, in Malaria, the Red Blood Cells are usually destroyed and this can lead to anaemia, for details on how malaria leads to anaemia, click here.

 

Types of Anaemia

Below is a list of the types of anaemia. Click on each to get on details.

  1. Aplastic anaemia
  2. Sickle cell anaemia
  3. Thalassemia
  4. Vitamin deficiency anaemia
  5. Iron deficiency anemia

Anaemia – Types, causes, and management

Symptoms of Anaemia

Anaemia signs and symptoms may vary depending on its cause. You might have no symptoms as the signs and symptoms depend on the causes of your anaemia, the signs and symptoms of malaria include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Headaches.
  • Weakness.
  • Pale skin(might be yellowish).
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat rhythm)
  • Apnea (Shortness of breath).
  • Dizziness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Chest pain
    Pale skin in Iron deficiency anaemia
    Pale skin in Iron deficiency anaemia

Causes of Anaemia

Blood has many types of cells – Red Blood cells, White Blood cells, and Platelets. Anaemia will generally occur when your blood does not have enough red blood cells.

This can happen if:

  • Your body does not make enough red blood cells
  • Bleeding causes you to lose red blood cells at a faster rate than they can be replaced.
  • Your body destroys red blood cells i.e. in infections such as Malaria.

The function of red blood cells in the Body

Three types of blood cells are made by your body;

  1. White blood cells. These are the soldiers in the body whose function is to fight infection in the body.
  2. Platelets to help your blood clot.
  3. Red blood cells help carry oxygen from the lungs throughout your body and back.

Most blood cells, including red blood cells, are produced in your bone marrow. Red blood cells contain something known as haemoglobin, which is an iron-rich protein responsible for blood’s red colour. Haemoglobin and red blood cells production require iron, vitamin B-12, folate, and other nutrients, which your body obtains from the foods you eat.. This Hemoglobin enables your red blood cells to carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body and to carry carbon dioxide from other parts of the body to your lungs to be exhaled and excreted from the body.

Causes of anaemia

Different types of anaemia will have different causes. These include:

  • Iron deficiency anaemia.

     This most common type of anaemia is caused by a shortage of iron in your body. Iron is one of the main ingredients required to make haemoglobin. Therefore, without adequate iron, your body won’t be able to produce enough haemoglobin for red blood cells. This type of anaemia occurs in many pregnant women and that is why they require iron supplements.
  • Vitamin deficiency anaemia.

     Your body also needs folate and vitamin B-12 to produce enough healthy red blood cells, therefore a diet lacking in these and other key nutrients can cause decreased red blood cell production.
  • Anaemia due to inflammation.

     Anaemia can also be caused by certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, kidney disease, and other acute or chronic inflammatory diseases — these diseases interfere with the production of red blood cells.
  • Hemolytic anaemia.

     This group of anaemia develops when red blood cells are destroyed faster than bone marrow can replace them. Hemolytic anaemia can be inherited, or it can develop at a later time in life.
  • Sickle cell anaemia.

     This is an inherited and sometimes serious condition. It is a type of hemolytic anaemia. In sickle cell anaemia, red blood cells assume an abnormal crescent (sickle) shape. These irregular blood cells die prematurely, resulting in a chronic shortage of red blood cells.
  • Aplastic anaemia.

    This is rare, life-threatening anaemia can occur when a person’s body does not produce enough red blood cells. Causes of aplastic anaemia include infections, certain medicines, autoimmune diseases, and exposure to toxic chemicals.

 

Risk factors

These factors place you at increased risk of anaemia:

  • Intestinal disorders. Having an intestinal disorder that affects the absorption of nutrients in your small intestine e.g. Crohn’s disease will put you at risk of anaemia.
  • Menstruation. Menstruation causes the loss of red blood cells.
  • Pregnancy. If you’re pregnant and aren’t taking a multivitamin with folic acid and iron, you’re at an increased risk of anaemia.
  • Chronic conditions. If you have cancer, kidney failure, diabetes, or another chronic condition, you could be at risk of anaemia of chronic disease. This is because these conditions can lead to a shortage of red blood cells.
  • Family history. If your family has a history of inherited anaemia, such as sickle cell anaemia, you also might be at increased risk of the condition.
  • Other factors. A history of certain infections, blood diseases, and autoimmune disorders increases your risk of anaemia. Alcoholism, exposure to toxic chemicals, and the use of some medications can affect red blood cell production and lead to anaemia.
  • Age. People over age 65 are at a higher risk.
  • A diet lacking in certain vitamins and minerals. A diet consistently low in iron, vitamin B-12, and folate increases your risk of anaemia.

Complications of Anaemia

When left untreated, anaemia can cause many health problems, such as:

  • Severe fatigue. Severe anaemia can make you so tired that you can’t complete everyday tasks.
  • Heart problems. Anaemia can lead to a rapid or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). When you’re anaemic your heart must pump more blood to make up for the lack of oxygen in the blood. This can lead to an enlarged heart or heart failure.
  • Death.  Losing a lot of blood quickly results in acute, severe anaemia and can be fatal. Some inherited anaemia conditions, such as sickle cell anaemia, can lead to life-threatening complications.
  • Pregnancy complications. Pregnant women with folate deficiency anaemia are more likely to have complications, such as premature birth.

Prevention

Fruits and Vegetable - a rich source of vitamins and irons  preventing Vitamin deficiency Anaemia
Fruits and Vegetable – a rich source of vitamins and irons

Many types of anaemia cannot be prevented.  Good nutrition is a good place to start. You can also avoid iron deficiency anaemia and vitamin deficiency Anemia by eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of vitamins and minerals. Fruits and Vegetables are also an excellent source of these vitamins and minerals including:

  • Iron. Iron-rich foods include beef and other meats, beans, lentils, iron-fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, and dried fruit.
  • Vitamin B-12. Foods rich in vitamin B-12 include meat, dairy products, and fortified cereal and soy products.
  • Folate. This nutrient, and its synthetic form folic acid, are found in fruits and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables, green peas, kidney beans, peanuts, and enriched grain products, such as bread, cereal, pasta, and rice.
  • Vitamin C. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits like lemon and juices,  melons, and bananas. These will help increase iron absorption.
iron supplements for Iron deficiency anaemia
iron supplements

If you’re concerned about getting enough vitamins and minerals from food, please consult your doctor who might prescribe a multivitamin to help you.

Please do not prescribe drugs for yourself as it could lead to overdosing, which is life-threatening. Always seek doctors’ advice and follow the prescribed dosage and instructions to the Later. 

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What is the main cause of anemia?

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