Are you at risk of anaemia?

by Symptom Advice on November 12, 2011

Published on 04/11/2011

Of the different types, iron deficiency anaemia is the most common among women. DR BRIGID MONDA sheds more light on it

Blood is life — it feeds every cell in the body, gets rid of all the waste products, protects the body from infection and repairs any damage the body may sustain.

Without it, we cannot survive. Our blood is a thick red fluid pumped around the body by the heart. Blood is made up of two main components — plasma, the liquid part and a large number of different cells suspended in it.

The red blood cells are crucial as they contain a red pigment called haemoglobin that gives blood its red colour. They transport oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body.

The oxygen that we breathe in is absorbed through our lungs into the blood and is then carried by the haemoglobin in the red blood cells to all the other cells in the body. these other cells are all active factories working day and night to keep us alive and they need oxygen to perform their tasks. these little factories all produce waste products like carbon dioxide, which has to be disposed of before it accumulates and poisons the whole system.

This carbon dioxide is carried by the haemoglobin back to the lungs where it is expelled from the body as we breathe out.

Lack of oxygen

When one’s haemoglobin level is below that which is normal for one’s given age and sex, the person is said to have anaemia.

The low levels of haemoglobin translate into a lower oxygen carrying capacity of the blood and a poorer supply of oxygen to the tissues, which then causes the typical symptoms of anaemia.

The person is pale because of the decreased level of redness of the blood and because blood is shunted from the peripheral organs like the skin to the more essential ones like the brain and kidneys.

The affected person is hypersensitive to cold also because of poorer skin blood flow; they are dizzy and have headaches because the brain is not getting enough oxygen.

They get palpitations because the heart pumps faster than normal to get this blood with its low oxygen content to the vital organs of the body. if the anaemia is severe, the heart will fail. Anaemia also lowers resistance to infection and increases chances of miscarriage. there are different types of anaemia with as many different causes. of these, iron deficiency anemia is the most common and mostly affects women. Iron is required for the manufacture of haemoglobin by the body and a lack of it causes iron deficiency anemia.

Common causes of iron deficiency anaemia are an iron deficient diet, poor iron absorption due to certain intestinal diseases, hookworm infection, malaria, heavy menstrual bleeding, poorly spaced pregnancies which deplete iron stores, blood loss from bleeding peptic ulcers or piles.

Vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia is caused by a lack of vitamin B12, which is also essential for formation of haemoglobin. It may be due to a deficient diet particularly in vegetarians, disease of the small intestine causing poor absorption of the vitamin like in Crohn’s or Coeliac disease or one’s stomach may not secrete enough of a special factor that enables the vitamin to be absorbed.

Anaemia itself is not a disease but a sign of another underlying problem. So when correcting it the underlying problem has to be treated too.

For example, for nutritional anemia like iron deficiency anaemia or vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia, treatment of the primary cause like worm infections, malaria, bleeding ulcers and vegetarian diet are addressed first and then supplements and an improved diet do the trick.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: