Articles

All You Need to Know about Anemia

Share

Anemia is one of the most common blood diseases that affects red blood cells, leading to a decrease in their number below normal levels. Red blood cells disseminate oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. Consequently, a decrease in their number indicates insufficient oxygen supply to some tissues and organs.

Blood cells are produced in the Medulla ossium through a series of complex processes, then are released into the blood circulation. The “hemoglobin” represents the functional structure of red blood cells; it is a complex protein that enables red blood cells to bind with oxygen and carry it to all parts of the body.

There are some factors involved in the production of red blood cells. These include iron, the main constituent of hemoglobin, and erythropoietin, which is secreted by the kidney and promotes the production of red blood cells in the Medulla ossium Keeping a normal number of red blood cells requires cooperation between the kidneys and the Medulla ossium, in addition to sufficient nutrition. It is worth mentioning that any deficiency in the above-mentioned elements negatively affects red blood cells number and function.

Anemia can be classified as either a chronic or a severe disease. On the one hand, chronic anemia usually occurs over a long period of time, increasing gradually; severe anemia, on the other hand, occurs quickly and its symptoms are sudden and more alarming. Alternatively, anemia can be classified into several types according to the causes; the most important types are:

  • Malnutrition: It is among the most common causes of anemia, as the amounts of iron, vitamins such as vitamin B12, and folic acid are not sufficient. 
  • Severe bleeding: Caused by accidents, burns, or digestive system problems.
  • Chronic Diseases related to the Medulla ossium: Such as cancers, kidney diseases, blood cancers, and lymphoma.
  • Chemotherapy and some other medications: They could affect the production of blood cells, causing anemia as a side effect.
  • Less common reasons: These include thyroid problems, heart diseases, immune system diseases, malaria, parasitic infections, lead poisoning, and exposure to insecticides.

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Blood tests can be performed as part of regular general check-ups; they can also be done when there are signs or symptoms of anemia. Anemia can also be detected through physical examination, the medical history of the patient, as well as knowing the family history of some genetic diseases. Since anemia is considered a symptom of other diseases, it is essential to identify the main cause; some laboratory tests help physicians know these causes.

Moreover, the physical assessment of patients also reveals anemia symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, dizziness, pale and yellowish skin, cold hands and feet, dyspnea, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, high or low blood pressure, and in some serious cases, hypoxemia, which can cause heart attacks.

Treatment

All treatment methods aim to increase red blood cells, and consequently increase the amount of oxygen carried by them; treatment differs according to the cause and the status of anemia. For example, anemia cases resulting from iron, vitamin B12, or folic acid deficiency can be treated by nutritional supplements. On the other hand, injection is necessary in some cases where vitamin B12 is not properly absorbed through the guts. In cases where patients suffer from kidney problems, the physician might also prescribe erythropoietin injections to increase the production of red blood cells in the Medulla ossium. Also, blood transfusion can be essential in some serious cases where the red blood cells count is very low.; the case might also require a medulla ossium transplant.

Daily Nutritional Needs

The average lifespan of red blood cells is 100–120 days; therefore, the body continuously seeks to reproduce them, as imbalance in the production and death of red blood cells causes anemia. Iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid are among the most important nutrients needed for the production of red blood cells; the required daily quantities of these nutrients vary according to gender and age.

Red meat, fish, chicken, lentils, grains, beans, and spinach are the most important sources of iron. Folic acid exists naturally in the human body; as of the age of fourteen, the body requires a daily dose of 400 mg, whereas pregnant and breastfeeding women require a daily dose of 600 mg. Fresh fruits, grains, cauliflower, and greens such as spinach are rich with folic acid. Adults need a daily dose of 2.4 mg of vitamin B12, whereas breastfeeding women require a daily dose of 2.8 mg; beef liver, mollusks, meat, fish, poultry, and eggs are rich in vitamin B12. If the nutritional diet is not sufficient to provide the body with the needed quantities of iron and vitamins, there might be a need for dietary supplements.

Anemia can be easily treated; however, it could turn dangerous if neglected. It is essential to consult a physician when any of the symptoms pop up, especially where there is a medical history of anemia in the family. It is also important to follow a sufficient diet; in most cases, changing the diet or consuming iron supplements can solve the problem.

References
emedicinehealth.com
healthline.com
webmd.com

About Us

SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
Continue reading

Contact Us

P.O. Box 138, Chatby 21526, Alexandria, EGYPT
Tel.: +(203) 4839999
Ext.: 1737–1781
Email: COPU.editors@bibalex.org

Become a member

© 2020 | Bibliotheca Alexandrina