Anemia is defined as low blood hemoglobin concentration. The normal haemoglobin level is between 11.5 to 16.5g/dL for adult female and 12.5 to 18.5g/dL for adult male. The main function of hemoglobin is to carry oxygen to the tissues hence anaemia leads to hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in organs and later to a wide range of clinical consequences.
Anemia is not a disease but a symptom of various conditions including extensive blood loss, excessive blood cell destruction or reduced blood cell formation. There are several kinds of anaemia caused by various underlying circumstances and the most common is lack of iron from daily intake. It is a condition when there is not enough healthy red blood cells in the blood circulation to carry oxygen to the tissues. This function is carried out by a protein called haemoglobin. Anaemia usually means not having enough haemoglobin. The normal haemoglobin level is between 11.5 to 16.5g/dL for a female and 12.5 to 18.5g/dL for a male.
Causes of anemia
1.Blood loss (which can be acute or chronic).
*Acute blood loss may be seen in a motor vehicle accident or following surgery. Blood loss of more than 500ml usually warrants replacement.
*Chronic blood loss occurs during excessive menstruation in females, chronic worm infestation and other conditions.
2.Inadequate production of normal red cells by bone marrow.
This may be due to:
*Deficiency of essential factors like iron, vitamin B12, folate and erythropoietin.
*Marked growth spurt in adolescence, causing an increased iron requirement which outstrips the rate of iron absorption.
*Menstruation in females with an average loss of 30 mg of iron each month may lead to an iron deficiency situation.
*Toxic factors: inflammatory disease, liver or kidney failure, medications.
*Hormone deficiency: low thyroid hormone levels.
*Invasion of bone marrow: blood cancers, bone marrow disease.
*Disorder of developing red cells: conditions such as thalassemia.
3.Excessive destruction of red blood cells due to infection or certain medications.
4.Anaemia can also be due to generalised or specific nutrient deficiencies. Besides protein, other few micronutrients are needed to form red blood cells and haemoglobin such as iron, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, copper, riboflavin and folic acid. Thus, lack of any of these micronutrients may lead to nutritional anaemia.
Symptoms of Anemia
Symptoms of Anemia is well described in this post by Medicine.net. Credit to them for the picture which I have linked below.
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