Anemia is the most common condition throughout the world. It affects an estimated 24.8 percent of the world’s population.
Anemia is a condition when your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body. Basically, the red blood cells contain hemoglobin that holds oxygen together.
Symptoms of Anemia
The various symptoms of Anemia include:
- Pale skin
- Numbness or coldness in hands and feet
- Low body temperature
Some of the common forms of anemia and their symptoms are:
- Folic acid deficiency anemia: diarrhea, irritability, and a smooth tongue
- Aplastic anemia: frequent infections, fever, and skin rashes
- Sickle cell anemia: painful swelling in the hands and feet, fatigue, and jaundice
- Hemolytic anemia: fever, dark-colored urine, jaundice, and abdominal pains
Causes of Anemia
It’s difficult to find the exact cause of anemia but some of the causes can be:
1) Anemia caused by blood loss (Iron deficiency anemia)
It is caused due to deficiency of iron, most often through blood loss. When the body loses blood, it extracts water from tissues outside the bloodstream in an attempt to keep the blood vessels filled. This process dilutes the blood due to which red blood cells get diluted too. This can happen due to menstruation, a poor diet, frequent blood donation, any surgery, endurance training, and certain digestive conditions, such as Crohn’s disease.
Causes of anemia due to blood loss include:
- gastrointestinal conditions including hemorrhoids, ulcers, cancer, or gastritis
- use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen
- menstrual bleeding
2) Anemia caused due to a decrease in or faulty red blood cell production
This can lead to various health issues such as:
- Sickle cell anemia: Red blood cells can break down abnormally.
- Bone marrow and stem cell problems: Aplastic anemia occurs when your body stops producing red blood cells or when few or no stem cells are present. Thalassemia occurs when red blood cells cannot grow and mature properly.
- Vitamin deficiency anemia: Red blood cell production decreases due to deficiency of Vitamin B-12 and folate, resulting in megaloblastic anemia and pernicious anemia.
3) Anemia caused by the destruction of red blood cells
Red blood cells typically have a life span of 120 days in the bloodstream but they can be destroyed or removed beforehand. The type of anemia that falls in this category is autoimmune hemolytic anemia. In this case, the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies red blood cells as a foreign substance and attacks them.
Excessive hemolysis can occur due to many reasons, including:
- Snake or spider venom
- Certain drugs, for example, some antibiotics
- An autoimmune attack, for instance, because of hemolytic disease
- Vascular grafts and prosthetic heart valves
- Clotting disorders
- Toxins produced through the advanced kidney or liver disease
- Severe hypertension
- Enlargement of the spleen