Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a main part of red blood cells and binds oxygen. If you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or your hemoglobin is abnormal or low, the cells in your body will not get enough oxygen. Symptoms of anemia -- like fatigue -- occur because organs aren't getting what they need to function properly.
For men, anemia is typically defined as hemoglobin level of less than 13.5 gram/100 ml and in women as hemoglobin of less than 12.0 gram/100 ml.
Anemia is caused by either a decrease in production of red blood cells or hemoglobin, or an increase in loss or destruction of red blood cells.
Conditions that may lead to anemia include
- Heavy periods
- Colon polyps or colon cancer
- Inherited disorders
- A diet that does not have enough iron, folic acid or vitamin B12
- Blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia and thalassemia, or cancer
- Aplastic anemia, a condition that can be inherited or acquired
- G6PD deficiency, a metabolic disorder
- Anaemia treatment depends on the cause.
- Iron deficiency anaemia - This form of anaemia is treated with changes in your diet and iron supplements.
- Vitamin deficiency anaemia. Folic acid and vitamin C deficiency anaemia are treated with dietary supplements and increasing these nutrients in your diet.
- Anaemia of chronic disease. There's no specific treatment for this type of anaemia. Doctors focus on treating the underlying disease. If symptoms become severe, a blood transfusion or injections of synthetic erythropoietin, a hormone normally produced by your kidneys, may help stimulate red blood cell production and ease fatigue.
- Aplastic anaemia. Treatment for this anaemia may include blood transfusions to boost levels of red blood cells. You may need a bone marrow transplant if your bone marrow is diseased and can't make healthy blood cells.
- Anomies associated with bone marrow disease. Treatment of these various diseases can include simple medication, chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation.
- Sickle cell anaemia. Treatment for this anaemia may include the administration of oxygen, pain-relieving drugs, and oral and intravenous fluids to reduce pain and prevent complications.