Anemia is a condition in which a person’s blood has a lower than normal number of red blood cells, or those cells don’t have enough hemoglobin, the iron-rich protein that gives blood its red color and carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
Symptoms of anemia
When you are anemic, your blood does not carry enough oxygen to the rest of your body, which makes you feel tired, along with causing other symptoms, like weakness or dizziness, shortness of breath, cold hands and feet, chest pain, rapid heart beat, headaches, and paler skin than usual. When your body does not receive enough oxygen, serious and sometimes fatal damage to your heart and other organs can occur.
Causes for anemia
When a person is found to have anemia it is important for the doctor to not only treat the anemia but identify the cause. Anemia is a condition that may result from bleeding or from many different disorders or exposures that either decrease the production of blood cells in the bone marrow or increase the destruction of the red cells in the blood. A list of different causes of anemia is included below.
- Aplastic anemia
- Congential anemias/marrow failure syndromes
- Hemolytic anemia
- Iron-Deficiency anemia
- Pernicious anemia
- Drug-induced anemia
The treatment for anemia depends on the cause of the anemia and the symptoms and health of the patient. Patients who are without symptoms may not need any therapy. When a patient has symptoms due to the anemia, he may receive blood transfusions or the blood growth hormone, erythropoietin, to raise the number for red cells. Other disease specific treatments may include nutrition supplements (iron, folate, vitamin B12), steroids, immunosuppressive drugs, chemotherapy, or bone marrow transplant.