What Is Anaemia?
Anaemia is a condition in which a person has a lower number of red blood cells or haemoglobin than normal in each blood cell. This causes inadequate oxygen in the body which contributes to the overall health of your body.
Anaemia is the most prevalent nutritional problem globally with an estimated 2.15 billion people suffering from it due to iron deficiency. This condition mostly affects women and children in developing countries.
What are the types of Anaemia and their causes?
The different types of anaemia depend on their causes. The most common types of anaemia are:
- Iron deficiency anaemia: It is the most common type of anaemia caused by shortage of iron in the body making it hard for the body to produce haemoglobin for the red blood cells.
- Chronic anaemia: This type of anaemia is caused by the presence of certain diseases such as HIV/AIDs, kidney disease and cancer which can interfere with the production of the red blood cells.
- Aplastic anaemia: This rare type of anaemia is caused by certain infections, diseases, medicines and chemicals that make it hard for the body to produce red blood cells.
- Sickle cell anaemia: It is an inherited haemolytic anaemia caused by a defective form of haemoglobin which makes the red blood cells have an abnormal crescent shape causing them to die prematurely leading to a shortage of the red blood cells.
Other causes of Anaemia are:
These cancers may not cause signs in the early stages but as they progress, the followings signs and symptoms may occur:
- Lack of certain vitamins like vitamin B12
- Heavy menstruation than normal
- Intestinal disorders such as poor absorption of iron which can be due to Crohn’s disease among other conditions
- Being pregnant and not taking multivitamin with folic acid puts you at risk of getting anaemia
- If a close family member has anaemia, it increases your risk of getting the condition
- Poor diet which does not contain enough iron
- People above 65 are also at a higher risk of getting anaemia
Symptoms of Anaemia
Anaemia symptoms depend on the cause of the anaemia and include:
- Irregular heartbeats
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in the chest
- Having pale or yellowish skin
- Feeling cold on the hands and feet
Diagnosis of Anaemia
- Initial consultation: The doctor gets to understand your symptoms and medical history that can help in the diagnosis.
- Complete blood count: This test is used to count the number of blood cells in a blood sample and in this case, the level of red blood cells in your body.
- Test to determine the size and shape of the red blood cells.
Treatment for anaemia depends on the cause of the anaemia. These treatments include:
- Taking iron supplements to treat anaemia caused by iron deficiency
- Dietary supplements to treat anaemia caused by vitamin deficiency
- Treating underlying factors in cases where the anaemia is due to chronic disease
- Blood transfusion can also be used to treat anaemia
- Taking antibiotics if the anaemia is caused by infections
- Surgery can be done to prevent abnormal menstrual bleeding or to remove the spleen in case of severe haemolytic anaemia
Prevention of Anaemia
To prevent yourself from getting anaemia, you should do the following:
- Eat a balanced healthy diet rich in vitamins and nutrients
- Take multivitamins
- Get treatment for conditions that can lead to anaemia such as malaria
- Reduce the intake of tea and coffee as they make iron absorption hard
- Changing medication dosage