Anemia is the condition
of having a lower than normal red blood cell count or when a persons red
blood cells do not include enough hemoglobin. Those who have anemia do not
receive enough oxygen-rich blood. Anemia is common and may occur at any age and
among any ethnic group. Although men and women can have anemia, women of
childbearing age are at increased risk.
A major symptom of anemia is exhaustion. Long-term
anemia may damage the brain, heart and other body organs. Severe anemia may
lead to death.
Although some types of anemia may be severe and
life-threatening if untreated, many types are mild, short term and easily
treated. Some types may be prevented with a healthy diet or with dietary
supplements. Treatment varies depending upon the cause and severity of the
Various types of anemia exist that are caused by
specific traits: aplastic anemia, blood loss anemia, Cooleys anemia, iron
deficiency anemia and sickle cell anemia.
Causes of anemia
There are three main
causes of anemia. First, blood loss is the most common, specifically iron
deficiency anemia. Blood loss may occur with heavy menstrual periods, bleeding
in the digestive or urinary tract, surgery, trauma or cancer may also cause
The second main cause is the lack of red blood cell
production. Decreased red blood cell production may either be an inherited or
acquired condition. Diet, hormones, chronic diseases or pregnancy are
conditions and factors that prevent a persons body from creating enough
red blood cells.
Lastly, acquired and inherited conditions and factors
may lead to high rates of blood cell destruction. This may occur when someone
has an enlarged or diseased spleen, which is the body organ that removes worn
out red blood cells. When a spleen is diseased or enlarged, more blood cells
than needed may be removed. An example of an inherited condition that destroys
too many red blood cells in the body is sickle cell anemia and a lack of
Risk factors for anemia
include low iron, vitamin or mineral diet; loss of blood after surgery or an
injury; long-term illness (cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, heart failure and
thyroid disease); long-term infection; or a family history of sickle cell
anemia or thalassemia.
Additional information can be found by searching the following