Anaemia is a health condition in which your body lacks a sufficient amount of healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells are important for the transfer of adequate oxygen to your body tissues. The absence of enough red blood cells can cause weakness in your body.
There are several different types of anaemia. These types are categorised based on the cause of the anaemia.
The signs and symptoms of anaemia are dependent on its cause. If your anaemia is caused by an underlying health condition then the symptoms of anaemia may be overlooked due to the more prominent symptoms of the other condition. Common symptoms include:
- Cold hands and feet
- Paleness or yellowing of the skin
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
The primary cause of anaemia is the deficiency of red blood cells. This deficiency can be caused by multiple reasons, such as:
- Body’s inability to produce enough red blood cells
- Excessive bleeding leading to loss of red blood cells
- Body’s response in destroying red blood cells
The different types of anaemia depending on their causes are:
Iron deficiency anaemia – This type of anaemia is triggered by a deficiency of iron in your body.
Vitamin deficiency anaemia – A deficiency of vitamin B12 and folate can cause this type of anaemia.
Anaemia of inflammation – This is caused by certain underlying medical conditions that can hinder the production of red blood cells. Common conditions include cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease and Crohn’s disease.
Anaemias associated with bone marrow disease – This type of anaemia is caused by conditions that cause a disturbance of blood production in the bone marrow. These include leukaemia and myelofibrosis.
Sickle cell anaemia – This type of anaemia is inherited and caused by a defective form of haemoglobin that causes red blood cells to take the form of a sickle.
Risk factors of anaemia
Factors that increase the risk of developing anaemia include:
- Improper diet
- Intestinal disorders
- Family history
Anaemia is diagnosed through complete blood count (CBC) when a patient presents with symptoms of the condition.
Your treatment plan is based on the type and cause of anaemia as well as the severity of your symptoms. Common treatment protocols include:
- Taking iron supplements
- Dietary supplements to increase intake of Vitamin B12 and folic acid
- Treatment of underlying disease
- Medicinal therapy
- Oral and intravenous fluids
- Blood transfusions
You can prevent anaemia by eating a nutrient-dense diet containing sufficient levels of folic acid, vitamins and iron.
Complications of anaemia include pregnancy complications, severe fatigue and heart problems.
You should avoid tea, coffee, dairy products. foods that contain oxalic acid, such as peanuts, parsley, and chocolate.