Anemia simply means lack of blood. This is the most common blood disorder.
The lack of blood or anemia may be various types, some very common types are given below:
- Decreased number of RBC (red blood cells) due to some disease like malaria.
- Blood loss due to some injury or ulcer.
- Insufficient production of RBC
- Malformation of RBC like Sickle Cell anaemia
- Lower level of haemoglobin
- Decreased folic acid and B12
RBC carries an iron containing red colored Metalloprotein called Hemoglobin (abbreviated Hb or Hgb), which is the carrier of oxygen in human body.
Hemoglobin carries oxygenated blood from lungs to tissues, where various metabolic functions take place in the presence of oxygen. The resultant carbon dioxide is carried by Hemoglobin and brought back to lungs. Hemoglobin has an oxygen binding capacity of 1.34 mL O2 per gram.
Anemia results in hypoxia. Oxygen is essential for survival so lack of oxygen causes wide range of consequences.
Among all types iron deficiency anemia is the most common.
The main causes of Iron deficiency anemia are as follows:-
The body is losing more blood than it can produce. It may happen for various reasons like woman having heavy, long and frequent menstruation cycle, some injuries causing heavy bleeding, cancer or ulcer in oesophagus, stomach or colon or any kind of Gastrointestinal bleeding.
Eating diets, that don’t have sufficient iron content. This may happen in case of strict vegetarians. Children and Infants also need iron rich diet for proper growth and development. Meat, eggs and leafy green vegetables are very good source of iron.
Body not absorbing iron properly due to Celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, which affects the intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients from digested food.
In case of pregnancy body needs more iron due to the increased blood volume and for the development of the foetus.
The common symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are as follows:
- Overall fatigue or weak nests due to the lack of proper oxygen supply.
- Hair loss
- Pale yellow skin
- Inflammation in tongue
- Pica or craving for non edible things like dirt
The primary test of iron deficiency Anemia is Complete Blood Count or CBC. This test is performed to check the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and some other abnormality in blood, including Hemoglobin and Hematocrit levels in blood. The normal range of Hemoglobin is 13-17 per deciliter (dL) of blood in case of male and 12-15 per deciliter (dL) of blood in case of female.
Hematocrit is the percentage of blood volume made up by red blood cells. Normal levels of hermatocrit are generally between 38.8 to 50 percent for men and 34.9 and 44.5 percent for women. CBC also measures the mean corpuscular volume or MCV. MCV is a measure of the average size of RBC. In case of Iron deficiency, red blood cells are smaller than normal.
After the confirmation of anemia from CBC, further tests are performed like Reticulocyte count, Peripheral smear, tests to measure iron levels, Thyroid tests and test to detect Gastrointestinal Blood Loss.
Source of iron :
- Liver of chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, beef,
- Lean red meat like beef and lamb
- Beans and lentils
Majority of the woman suffers from iron deficiency Anemia worldwide. Woman of child bearing age is more prone to this kind of Anemia due to blood loss during menstruation cycle or pregnancy. Other factors like socioeconomic conditions may also the enhance this condition.
In general the women having heavy, long and frequent menstruation cycle suffer from chronic iron deficiency Anemia. They should take iron fortified diets or external iron supplements.
Generally most of the women suffer from anemia in the time of pregnancy. The body needs 50% more hemoglobin in this time.
The blood volume is increased in pregnant woman causing the decrease of blood hemoglobin level and also the reduction of concentration of red blood cells . The fetus is developed and nourished in mother’s blood, so maintaining proper hemoglobin level is very important for the development of the fetus.
The condition gets worse if the mother vomit frequently due to morning sickness throughout pregnancy. It is observed that maternal and fetal mortality rate is higher in anemic mother. The pregnant woman should eat iron rich diets to prevent anemia. But in most of the cases external iron supplements are needed to meet the required hemoglobin level. The prescribed amounts of external iron supplements. depends on the severity of the anemia.
It should be noted that Anemia in the time of pregnancy may also developed due to the deficiency of Folic acid and Vitamin B12.