Anemia: The Most Common Blood Disorder

Anemia is a decrease in number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. Anemia is the most common disorder of the blood. Hemoglobin is a protein inside the red blood cells that contains iron and transports oxygen.

It can be classified in a variety of ways. The three main classes include excessive blood loss, excessive blood cell destruction or deficient red blood cell production.

Symptoms

Anemia signs

People whose anemia develops gradually may have no symptoms for a long time. It will vary according to the type of anemia, its underlying cause, and if there are any underlying health problems.

Below are some symptoms linked to anemia:

  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Lethargy – sluggishness, apathy, a feeling of laziness
  • Malaise – a vague feeling that one is not well
  • Dyspnea – shortness of breath; difficult or labored breathing
  • Poor concentration
  • Palpitations – unpleasant irregular and/or forceful beating of the heart
  • Sensitivity to cold temperatures


Treatment

Dietary Changes and Supplements

Low levels of vitamins or iron in the body can cause some types of anemia. These low levels might be the result of a poor diet or certain diseases or conditions.

To raise your vitamin or iron level, your doctor may ask you to change your diet or take vitamin or iron supplements. Common vitamin supplements are vitamin B12 and folic acid (folate). Vitamin C sometimes is given to help the body absorb iron.

Iron

Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin. Your body can more easily absorb iron from meats than from vegetables or other foods.

Nonmeat foods that are good sources of iron include:

  • Spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables
  • Tofu
  • Peas; lentils; white, red, and baked beans; soybeans; and chickpeas
  • Dried fruits, such as prunes, raisins, and apricots
  • Prune juice
  • Iron-fortified cereals and breads

Vitamin B12

Low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to pernicious anemia. This type of anemia often is treated with vitamin B12 supplements.

Good food sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • Breakfast cereals with added vitamin B12
  • Meats such as beef, liver, poultry, and fish
  • Eggs and dairy products (such as milk, yogurt, and cheese)
  • Foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as soy-based beverages and vegetarian burgers

Folic Acid

Folic acid (folate) is a form of vitamin B that’s found in foods. Your body needs folic acid to make and maintain new cells. Folic acid also is very important for pregnant women. It helps them avoid anemia and promotes healthy growth of the fetus.

Good sources of folic acid include:

  • Bread, pasta, and rice with added folic acid
  • Spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables
  • Black-eyed peas and dried beans
  • Beef liver
  • Eggs
  • Bananas, oranges, orange juice, and some other fruits and juices

Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. Good sources of vitamin C are vegetables and fruits, especially citrus fruits. Citrus fruits include oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and similar fruits. Fresh and frozen fruits, vegetables, and juices usually have more vitamin C than canned ones.Other fruits rich in vitamin C include kiwi fruit, strawberries, and cantaloupes. Vegetables rich in vitamin C include broccoli, peppers, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes, and leafy green vegetables like turnip greens and spinach.

Medicines

Your doctor may prescribe medicines to help your body make more red blood cells or to treat an underlying cause of anemia.
Source:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov

 

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