Anemia: Causes and Treatment Skip to content
Anemia:  Causes and Treatment

Anemia: Causes and Treatment

Anemia is not an uncommon condition in the U.S. and throughout the world. In fact, it is the most common blood condition in the United States and affects millions of people each year. There are many different causes and types of anemia, and some forms can create lifelong health problems. However, there are also some forms of treatment that can range from simple (such taking certain supplements) to more complicated (such as blood transfusions). It is important to first get a diagnosis of the specific type of anemia before treatment can considered.

What Is Anemia?

Anemia is a condition in which the blood does not carry enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin and, therefore, does not get enough oxygen to your tissues. This can be due to the body not producing enough red blood cells, or it can be caused by the destruction of red blood cells through blood loss. Men are considered anemic when they have hemoglobin levels less than 13.5 gram/100 ml, while women are considered anemic with levels of hemoglobin of less than 12.0 gram/100 ml.

Symptoms

Some people with anemia do not have any symptoms, making it more difficult to get a diagnosis. The more common symptoms of anemia include:
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Looking pale
  • Feeling as though your heart is racing
  • Breathing problems
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Leg cramps

Types of Anemia

Many people are unaware that there are multiple types of anemia that a person can be diagnosed with. These are some of the more common types:

Iron-deficiency

The most common type of anemia is caused by iron-deficiency. Iron deficiencies occur when a person has too little iron in their blood. This can be caused by eating a diet that is lacking in iron, heavy menstruation, or even certain intestinal diseases. Those who are diagnosed with iron deficiencies experience the following symptoms:
  • A hunger for abnormal substances, such as ice, dirt, paper, or clay
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Sore mouth with cracks at the corners

B-12 deficiency

Vitamin B-12 plays an important role in our bodies by supporting the normal function of our brain and nervous system. Some people experience anemia because their bodies are lacking this essential vitamin. Symptoms of anemia caused by B-12 deficiencies include:
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dementia
  • A tingling of the hands and feet
  • A lost sense of touch
  • Loss of appetite

Sickle cell anemia

Sickle cell anemia is a genetic blood disorder that is caused by abnormal hemoglobin in red blood cells. These cells often take on a sickle shape, rather than a normal disc shape, making them inefficient to carry oxygen to nearby tissues. Those who experience this type of anemia may experience the following symptoms:
  • Severe pain, particularly in the joints or limbs
  • Delayed growth in children
  • Fatigue
  • Susceptibility to infection

Hemolytic anemia

This type of anemia occurs when the body’s bone marrow cannot make enough blood cells to replace the ones that were destroyed. This can be caused by diseases, illnesses, or it can be genetic. Some symptoms of hemolytic anemia include:
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Urine that is brown or red
  • Tiny bruises under the skin
  • Jaundice
  • Seizures
  • Symptoms similar to kidney failure

Possible Treatment

Treatment for anemia will depend on the specific type of anemia that an individual is diagnosed with. It is important to get a diagnosis first, and then ask your doctor what the best course of treatment would be. Some treatments for certain types of anemia include the following: Iron-deficiency anemia: Treatments for iron-deficiency anemia include taking iron and vitamin C supplements if the cause of iron deficiency is due to a poor diet. Some doctors may suggest certain birth control methods for women who are iron-deficient due to heavy menstruation. B-12 deficiency anemia: B-12 deficiency anemia is often treated by consuming B-12 supplements or with B-12 injections (can be found here at CamFormulas). Those with digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease may not need injections after Crohn’s is treated. Sickle cell anemia: Although this is a life-long disease, those with sickle cell anemia may be able to reduce pain and complications through pain-relieving drugs, blood transfusions, or folic acid supplements. A bone marrow transplant may also be an effective treatment. Hemolytic anemia: There are different types of hemolytic anemia, and treatment will depend on the severity. Some treatment options include blood transfusions, surgery, or corticosteroid medication.

Find the Right Doctor

A good doctor will be able to run tests that will give you a proper diagnosis. While most people are iron deficient, it is best to get checked out by your doctor who can suggest how much iron you need to incorporate into your diet.
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