When the blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells it leads to anemia. Although women are more likely to suffer from this condition, even men suffer from anemia. If the hemoglobin count is less than 12g per 100ml of blood for women they are said to be anemic.
A man said to be anemic if his hemoglobin readings are less than 13.5g per 100ml of blood. Even children suffer from anemia caused by certain vitamin deficiencies. In the United States alone a staggering 3.5 million people suffer from anemia. A major chunk of anemia sufferers are women. In most cases a person may go through life without realizing that they are anemic unless secondary health complications develop as a result of their anemia.
Blood Cells and Their Functions
Three kinds of blood cells are produced by the human body namely white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Each of these blood cells performs their own unique function. While red blood cells are needed to carry oxygen to the different parts of the body, white blood cells help to fight any bacterial or viral infections. Even the platelets perform an important function. The blood clotting ability is determined by the platelets in the blood.
The protein hemoglobin not only gives blood its unique red color, it also aids the RBC or red blood cells in carrying oxygen from the lungs to the different organs of the body. It also helps in transporting carbon dioxide from various parts of the body to the lungs to be exhaled out.
Causes of Anemia
There are many different factors which can lead to anemia. These underlying factors which causes anemia can range from excessive blood loss due to an iron or vitamin deficiency. What ever the underlying cause of anemia, early intervention can ensure that a person will lead a healthy life without any further anemia related health complications. Through this article we will examine some of the common and known causes of anemia.
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron deficiency is the likeliest reason for a person to become anemic. When there is a deficiency or shortage of iron in the body is can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Hemoglobin an important component of the red blood cells, which performs the vital function of carrying oxygen from the lungs to the organs and transporting carbon dioxide from the organs back to the lungs, is produced by the bone marrow which is the spongy substance found inside the bones.
For the bone marrow to properly produce hemoglobin, iron is needed. When there are inadequate stores of iron in the body, the bone marrow will not produce hemoglobin which ultimately leads to anemia. The reason for inadequate iron stores in the body could range from reasons like eating a vegetarian diet, heavy menstrual bleeding, taking excessive amounts of caffeine, increased metabolic demands especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding and even frequent blood donations.
Anemia Due To Blood Loss
Excessive blood loss can also lead to anemia. In fact most women in their productive years suffer from anemia due to blood loss resulting from menstruation and during child birth. Women who suffer from heavy menstrual blood loss mostly suffer from anemia. Women who have to undergo multiple child births also suffer from anemia due to excessive blood loss.
However menstruation and child birth are not the only reasons why a person develops anemia due to blood loss. In fact people who suffer from gastrointestinal bleeding due to stomach ulcers, certain types of stomach cancers, gastritis or even hemorrhoids can also develop anemia.
Vitamin Deficiency Anemia
Even deficiency of certain vital vitamins can cause anemia. The production of the red blood cells is affected by a deficiency of certain essential vitamins. The vitamins which interfere with the normal RBC or red blood cell production and which can ultimately lead to anemia are vitamin C, vitamin B 12 and folate.
People normally develop a deficiency of these vitamins because of following an improper diet or due to inherent problem in absorbing or processing these vitamins. Normally anemia caused by vitamin deficiency can be treated successfully by taking adequate vitamin supplements. Vitamin deficiency anemia is normally characterized by a feeling of extreme weakness and acute shortness of breath. Two types of anemia which develop as a result of vitamin deficiency are pernicious anemia and megaloblastic anemia.
Anemia Caused By Kidney Disease
People who suffer from kidney diseases are very likely to suffer from anemia. Twenty eight percent of all people suffering from mild kidney disease and nearly eighty seven percent of people with severe kidney disease are likely to suffer from anemia.
So what is the relationship between kidney ailments and anemia? The production of the red blood cells by the bone marrow is controlled by a hormone called erythropoietin which is released by the kidneys. The production of this hormone is massively reduced in people who have been suffering from kidney ailments for a long time. When erythropoietin levels reduce they affect the RBC production which in turn causes anemia.
Chronic Diseases and Anemia
Chronic disease can be defined as long term medical conditions. Many chronic diseases can lead to anemia. Some of the chronic or long term disease which can cause anemia include autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, systemic lupus erythematosus and ulcerative colitis; liver cirrhosis; kidney diseases; certain types of cancers; and even long term infections like HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, bacterial endocarditis, and hepatitis B.
Anemia Caused By Destruction of Red Blood Cells
Hemolytic anemia is a type of anemia which develops as a result of the destruction of red blood cells. Some people are born with hemolytic anemia which this type of anemia may develop later on in life for other people. The reason why the red blood cells rupture is because they are unable to withstand the pressure exerted by the circulatory system. Some of the other reasons why red blood cells rupture include certain infectious disease, toxins released into the system due to kidney or liver disease, attack on the red blood cells by the immune system and even severe hypertension.
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