Anemia : symptoms and causes

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Anemia is a disorder that develops when blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells. These cells are the main transporters of oxygen to organs. If red blood cells are also deficient in hemoglobin, then your body isn't getting enough iron. Symptoms of anemia like fatigue occur because organs aren't getting enough oxygen.

What are the symptoms of anemia ?

The symptoms of anemia will vary according to the type of anemia, the underlying cause and your underlying health problems. Symptoms common to many types of anemia are: Chronic fatigue and loss of energy, unusually rapid heart beat, shortness of breath and headache particularly with exercise, difficulty concentrating.

What causes anemia ?

Iron deficiency anemia occurs because of a lack of the mineral iron in the body. It can be caused by the following:

  • An iron-poor diet, especially in children, teens and vegetarians.
  • The metabolic demands of pregnancy and breastfeeding that deplete a woman's iron stores.
  • Menstruation, Frequent blood donation
  • Endurance training.
  • Digestive disorders such as Crohn's disease or surgical removal of part of the stomach or small intestine.
  • Certain drugs, foods, and caffeinated drinks.

This form of anemia is treated with iron supplements prescribed by your doctor.

Vitamin deficiency anemia

Vitamin deficiency anemia may occur when vitamin B12 and B9 are deficient. These two vitamins are needed to make red blood cells. Conditions leading to anemia caused by vitamin deficiency include the following:

  • Megaloblastic anemia: Vitamin B12 or folate or both are deficient.
  • Pernicious anemia: Poor vitamin B12 absorption caused by conditions such as Crohn's disease, an intestinal parasite infection, surgical removal of part of the stomach or intestine, or infection with HIV.
  • Other causes of vitamin deficiency: Pregnancy, certain medications, alcohol abuse, intestinal diseases such as tropical sprue and gluten-sensitive enteropathy (celiac disease).
  • Dietary deficiency: Eating little or no meat may cause a lack vitamin B12, while overcooking or eating too few vegetables may cause a folate dificiency.

Vitamin deficiency anemia is treated with folic acid supplements and injections of vitamin B12. If you think you are anemic, talk to your doctor who may prescribe blood tests. Take the opportunity to adjust your diet and lifestyle!

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