Your body needs enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to your organs. Insufficient oxygen will limit your body’s ability to function, resulting in possible organ failure. If you think you may be anaemic, GlobMed can help you find a doctor that can provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Anaemia caused by inadequate iron intake or absorption is the most common type of anaemia. However, there are many different types and causes of anaemia. It is important that anaemia treatment is specific to the condition’s cause. For example, you may try taking iron supplements if you are feeling weak or tired, but these will not be effective if you have B12-defi
What Are The Most Common Anaemia Symptoms?
If you are anaemic, you are likely experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea).
- Dizziness and feeling lightheaded.
- Fast or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).
- A pounding or “whooshing” sound in your ear (pulsatile tinnitus).
- Pale or yellow skin.
- Chest pain.
What Causes Anaemia?
Anaemia may be evident from birth. For others, the condition can develop from an inadequate diet or a chronic disease. The most common causes are:
- Inadequate dietary intake. Your dietary iron intake can be inadequate due to a poorly balanced diet, blood loss (e.g., heavy periods), an adolescent growth spurt, pregnancy, or breastfeeding.
- Exercise. Athletes are prone to iron deficiency because regular exercise increases the body’s need for iron.
- Chronic diseases such as autoimmune diseases (including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus), cancer, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, chronic kidney disease, and inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) can cause anaemia. Pernicious anaemia is an autoimmune condition caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency.
How Is Anaemia Diagnosed?
Blood tests can determine whether you are anaemic. A complete blood count (CBC) measures how many red blood cells you have and the amount of haemoglobin in your blood. It also evaluates your red blood cells’ size and shape. In complex cases more tests may be required.
What Kinds Of Anaemia Are There?
There are many types of anaemia with different causes. These can be grouped into those related to nutritional deficiencies, those that are inherited, and those caused by abnormal red blood cells.
Iron-deficiency anaemia, vitamin B12-deficiency anemia, and pernicious anaemia are the most common anaemia conditions related to nutritional deficiencies. If you have iron-deficiency anaemia, your blood does not have enough iron to make haemoglobin, which transports oxygen throughout your body. If you have vitamin B12-deficiency anaemia, your body is not making adequate healthy red blood cells. Pernicious anaemia, a type of B12-deficiency anaemia, is an autoimmune condition that limits your body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12.
Inherited anaemias include sickle cell anaemia, Fanconi anaemia, and Diamond-Blackfan anaemia. Sickle cell anaemia changes your red blood cells’ shape, turning them into rigid and sticky sickle cells that block blood flow. Fanconi anaemia is a rare blood disorder, while Diamond-Blackfan anaemia prevents your bone marrow from making enough red blood cells.
Anaemias caused by abnormal red blood cells mostly occur when these cells break down or die faster than usual. You can also develop these conditions if you do not produce enough red blood cells or if your immune system attacks your red blood cells.
How Is Anaemia Treated?
Anaemia is treated according to its specific cause.
Iron-deficiency anaemia is often treated through iron supplementation. Dietary changes are also advised to include greater iron intake. Your GP may recommend you eat more foods that are high in iron such as meat, dark-green leafy green, iron-fortified cereals, eggs, fish, tofu, or some dried fruit, nuts, or seeds.
Doctors often treat vitamin B12-deficiency anaemia with vitamin B12, or hydroxocobalamin, injections. In the UK, most cases of vitamin B12-deficiency are caused by pernicious anaemia. This is an autoimmune condition unrelated to your diet.
If your anaemia is a complication of a chronic disease, your doctor will treat the underlying cause.You may be prescribed medication to boost red blood cell production. Or, if you have abnormal red blood cells (e.g., aplastic anaemia or haemolytic anaemia), you may be prescribed immunosuppressants, or a blood transfusion may be advised.
Frequently Asked Questions
Taking too much iron can damage your organs. It is important to speak with a GP to determine your individual iron needs.
Pernicious anaemia is an autoimmune condition that limits your body’s absorption of vitamin B12. This vitamin is important for the production of healthy red blood cells.
Untreated coeliac disease can affect the absorption of iron. People who have had gastric surgery, including obesity surgery, may also develop iron deficiency because of absorption problems.