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Are You Anemic?

 Author:Dr.Irena Mehandjiska Shumanska

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Overview of Anemia

The simple explanation of the word Anemia is: "Lack of blood." When you hear this word, the first thing you should have in mind is the decreased production of red blood cells and Hemoglobin (the pigmented protein responsible for caring Oxygen). The production of these blood elements in the body depends on different factors. A shortage of minerals and vitamins can result in Anemia, also chronic inflammations and chronic diseases, use of medicines, bleeding, and genetic disorders can cause Anemia.

Different Types of Anemia

1.Iron deficiency anemia 

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of Anemia in humans. The production of red blood cells is reduced because of iron deficiency in the body. The iron is a mineral that is needed for the production of a pigmented protein called Hemoglobin that is located inside the red blood cells. The main role of this mineral is to hold Oxygen within the structure of Hemoglobin protein inside the red blood cell. In that form, the Oxygen is transported to the other cells in the body and helps cells to produce energy. When iron is insufficient, the production of Hemoglobin is decreased. At the same time, Oxygen can not bind inside the red blood cells and be transported. As a result, the cells are not getting enough Oxygen so that they can produce enough energy for the proper functioning of different organs and tissues.

That's why the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are tiredness, shortness of breath, palpitations (noticeable heartbeats), and pale skin.

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Causes of Iron Deficiency in the Body-

Possible Causes of Iron Deficiency Anemia

There are many causes of iron deficiency in the organism; here are the most common:

1)、 not taking enough food reach in iron

2)、impaired absorption of Iron in GIT (gastrointestinal tract)

3)、chronic bleeding

4)、pregnancy and lactation

The treatment of this type of Anemia has to start right after the diagnose, and at the same time, the cause of it should be removed. The treatment is with iron supplements. The treatment should last for three more months after normal results of Hemoglobin, so the iron reserves in the body are fulfilled. Usually, one tablet of the iron supplement contains 100 mg elementary iron, and the daily dose is 150-200 mg.

The tablets should be taken before meals on an empty stomach.

Consuming foods reach in iron is also a way of treating this type of Anemia.

Those foods are spinach, beetroot, beans, liver, and nettle seed. 

2.Megaloblastic Anemia

This Anemia is called megaloblastic because the bone marrow produces abnormal red blood cells called megaloblasts (large, abnormally developed, immature red blood cells). This type of Anemia is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin B12 or Folic acid. This deficiency of Vitamin B12 can be seen in people that don't consume food of animal origin, strict vegetarians, people that have absorption problems because of chronic gastritis (inflammation of the stomach), and other more specific and not so common causes. Folic acid deficiencies are because of poor nutrition, abnormal absorption of nutrients in the gastrointestinal system, pregnancy, puberty, chronic diseases, and the use of medicines.

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 It can be asymptomatic, but when it shows symptoms such as fatiguepaleness of skin, shortness of breath, headaches, palpitations, dizziness, neurological symptoms like numbness, and tingling in the hands and feet and loss of appetite or other gastrointestinal abnormalities. The treatment is therapy with Vitamin B12 as intramuscular injections for ten days,1000 mcg, then weekly 1000 mcg for six weeks, and then two weeks six more doses with keeping the same amount monthly.

3.Hemolytic Anemia

Hemolytic Anemia is a rare type of Anemia and happens when the red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be made. The process of destruction is called hemolysis. The production of the red blood cells is also increased, and when the organism can not replace the red blood cells that are destroyed with new ones, this type of Anemia happens. The destruction of red blood cells can be inside the blood vessels or outside and can be caused by autoimmune diseases, exposure to toxic substances, self-destruction of the red blood cells, and others.

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The treatment depends on the severity of the Anemia, most of them get better with time. Particular treatment protocols are followed for specific types of hemolytic Anemia.

Diagnose of Anemia

To diagnose Anemia, it depends on the information we collect from anamnesis (medical history of the patient), clinical findings, and laboratory findings.

How to Recognize Anemia in Children?

The child that has Anemia will complain about tiredness, shortness of breath, mild weakness, headaches, dizziness, rapid heart rate, and restless legs. You, as a parent, might recognize some signs such as pale or yellow skin (chicks and lips), napping more frequently, swollen hands and feet, and cola-colored urine. 

If you or your child are experiencing some of the symptoms of Anemia, you should consult your doctor/pediatrician for further examinations and proper treatment.


* "Red Blood Cells." US National Library of Medicine. Archived from the original on 2017-01-01.

* "What Causes Anemia?". National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

*What Is Anemia? – NHLBI, NIH". www.nhlbi.nih.gov. Archived from the original on 2016-01-20. Retrieved 2016-01-31