Anaemia is a condition which occurs when you have an abnormally low amount of red blood cells (RBC). Red blood cells contain haemoglobin, a red pigment which gives blood its colour. The job of haemoglobin is to carry oxygen around the body. When red blood cells and therefore haemoglobin are low the blood fails to supply the body's tissues with sufficient amounts of oxygen. As your lungs and heart will then have to work harder to get oxygen into the blood, symptoms of anaemia, such as difficulty in breathing will begin to develop.

It may develop due to several reasons like:
Heavy periods.
Diet low in iron.
Internal bleeding, for example if you have an ulcer or a tumour.
Diet low in vitamin B12 or folic acid.
Blood diseases such as leukaemia.
Infections, such as malaria.

The main types of anaemia are caused by shortages of iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid, all of which are needed (among other things) to produce red blood cells, so if one or more of these are missing or running low then anaemia will develop.

Symptoms of anaemia
As anaemia causes a shortage of oxygen, the main symptom is usually chronic tiredness and palpitations. Other symptoms you may get could include:

Pale appearance
Shortness of breath and dizziness
Fainting
Angina
A red, sore tongue and a reduced sense of taste, this is usually only a symptom with folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia.

Diagnosis and treatment
Very few tests are needed to diagnose anaemia, the main test is a full blood count, this is basically a blood test that looks at the number, size and shape of red blood cells. The doctor may also measure iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid levels. If anaemia is diagnosed and there is no obvious cause, your doctor may suggest you have an x-ray to ensure there is no internal bleeding.

The treatment will depend greatly on the cause of anaemia. Treatment is usually simple and may be resolved with an improved diet or by taking supplements. If the cause of anaemia is vitamin B12 deficiency then doctor may prescribe vitamin B12 injections. These injections will need to be given every 3 months, usually throughout the patient's life. It is also possible to have iron injections but this is not often necessary.

If anaemia has been caused by internal bleeding e.g. ulcers then medicines or surgery may be required. If anaemia is severe then the patient may also need to have a blood transfusion.

If anaemia is left untreated then the symptoms will get worse and patient may become very tired and weak, may also develop angina or suffer with leg pains when walking. The body's ability to fight infection may also be weakened so he/she may find you pick up infections more easily.

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1 comments

  1. Leslie  

    July 12, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    I was wondering if your page contains articles related to- prevention of iron deficiency in women and children. Although, I've read some posts in- http://www.anaemiasymptoms.co.uk. I'm looking for more information. Thanks!fecle

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