Anemia is a condition of low hemoglobin levels (Hb “Hemoglobin is the main part of red blood cells that transfers oxygen to all body organs”). Low Hemoglobin causes a decrease in the amount of oxygen in the blood. There are different types of anemia and they are classified according to the size of red blood cells (MCV) and also according to their variation (RDW) and the concentration of hemoglobin in cells (MCHC).
The most common Anemia types are:
- Anemia due to lack of iron: iron deficiency causes imbalance in the production of hemoglobin and thus a partial attachment of oxygen in red blood cells.
- Anemia due to a deficiency in vitamin B12 or B9: theses deficiencies cause damage to the production of white blood cells (WBC) in bone marrow. When anemia is caused by a deficiency in vitamin B12 absorption, it is called Malignant anemia; However, when it is caused by folic acid deficiency, it is called Megaloblastic anemia. This type of anemia is more prevalent among vegetarians.
Causes for anemia
- Decreased RBC production, B12 deficiency, B9 (folic) deficiency, or iron deficiency due to malnutrition or bone marrow disorder.
- Blood loss as a result of an injury, surgery, constant bleeding, birth, menstruation, bleeding hemorrhoids, or peptic ulcers.
- Increased destruction of red blood cells (Hemolytic anemia).
- pregnancy and breastfeeding (during pregnancy and breastfeeding part of the iron goes from the mother to the fetus).
- Exposure to toxic chemicals such as Pesticide, or the use of some medications like chemotherapy drugs and certain antibiotics.
- Some chronic diseases such as arthritis, HIV/Aids, different types of cancer, enteritis, renal failure, hepatic diseases, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Inherited diseases like thalassemia and drepanocytic (sickle cell) anemia.
- Autoimmune response against red blood cells or autoimmune disease such as lupus.
- Erythropoietin deficiency due to renal failure. Erythropoietin is a hormone produced by the kidneys when there is a decrease in the amount of oxygen to stimulate the production of WBC in bone marrow.
- Parasitic infection especially malaria.
- Tachycardia or arrhythmia.
- Lightheadedness (dizziness) and nausea are common symptoms of anemia
- Shortness of breath.
- Physical weakness.
- Fatigue and tension.
- Loss of skin freshness.
- Muscle cramps.
- Cold limps (hands and feet).
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Non menstruation in women.
- Advanced and non-treated cases of anemia have symptoms like stroke, arrhythmia, heart failure, neuronal damage and death.
- Anemia caused by genetic defects or a dysfunction of bone marrow may have more severe symptoms such as: spleen enlargement, weak immunity (susceptibility to infections), pain, growth and development disorders, retardation, kidney failure, and bleeding.