Blood, a very essential body fluid, is composed of blood cells in a liquid called blood plasma. Plasma is composed of many different cells, the most important one being the platelets, responsible for making blood clot and other cell types that comprise the blood and the red blood cells. Also known as haematids or erythrocytes, the red blood cells deliver oxygen to the different organs of the body, through molecules called hemoglobin. The lack of enough red blood cells leads to Anemia. Doctors commonly describe someone having anemia as having low blood count. Anemia is not actually a disease in itself, but rather a symptom. Anemia can be classified into chronic or acute. Knowing the type of anemia is important in determining the exact cause of the problem.
Anemia is the most common of all blood disorders. Statistically, older people are more likely to get medical complications stemming from anemia. Also, women are twice as likely to get anemia as men.
Causes and Symptoms of Anemia
Red blood cells are produced regularly in the bone marrow, a red, spongy material found in the cavities of large bones. The cooperation of the kidneys as well as the nutrients in the body, are the important factors in producing hemoglobin and red blood cells. The life span of red blood cells is about 100 days, so there is a constant need of replacement.
The causes of anemia include improper functioning of the marrow or the kidneys, improper nourishment, external bleeding or loss of blood through heavy menstruation, wounds, or ulcers, long term medical conditions, bleeding disorders, infections, and certain types of cancer.
Since low red blood cells mean a decrease of oxygen to the organs of the body, you may experience many signs and symptoms of anemia. It can also worsen any underlying condition that you may have. Common anemia signs and symptoms include:
- black and tarry stools that are sticky and foul-smelling;
- stools with visible blood;
- a skin that is cold or pale
- low blood pressure;
- general weakness;
- heart murmur;
- weight loss;
- Dizziness and fainting, especially when standing.
Getting Rid of Anemia
Little can be done to treat anemia at home. It’s recommended that constant check-ups with a doctor are done. The following things can also be done to treat anemia though-
- Keeping yourself hydrated. It is important that you keep yourself hydrated. Do not drink too much, though, or you will dilute your red blood cells and worsen your anemia.
- Taking supplements containing iron. The type of anemia that results from a deficiency in iron can be treated with these supplements containing iron, which usually need to be taken for several months.
- Taking vitamin supplements and a healthy diet. If the anemia is due to a lack of vitamins and minerals, taking supplements should help curb the problem. There are other nutrients that you can’t get from supplements, such as proteins and fats. In such cases, a balanced and healthy diet will fill in what you need.
- Surgery and transfusion. In severe cases of anemia, a blood transfusion may be in order, although generally, doctors avoid doing it. A bone marrow transplant is also an option in the case where the anemia is as a result of failure of the marrows to produce sufficient haemoglobin.