The deficiency of healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin in the body causes anemia. Hemoglobin is the critical core of the RBCs that binds oxygen. As a result, a condition of anemia causes reduced supply of oxygen in the body. Fatigue is the most common symptom of anemia because the organs do not receive oxygen sufficiently to function properly. Anemia affects more than 3.5 million people in the United States, making it the most common blood condition in the country.
People with chronic diseases as well as women are at a higher risk of anemia. Some types of anemia are hereditary and may be present in babies from birth. During childbearing years, women are particularly vulnerable to iron deficiency anemia because of blood loss. Poor people with unhealthy diet and older adults with medical conditions are also at an increased risk of developing anemia.
More than 400 types of anemia conditions exist in human beings. These conditions can be broadly classified into three groups based on the fundamental causes of the condition:
Anemia caused due to excessive blood loss
Anemia caused due to defective or reduced red blood cell production
Anemia caused due to death of red blood cells
Treatment for anemia can begin only after its underlying cause has been determined. Inappropriate treatment for a particular type of anemia may be hazardous for the patient’s health. When anemia is caused due to excessive blood loss, the treatment may include a blood transfusion, intake of fluids, oxygen supply, and iron supplementation to help the body produce more red blood cells. Chronic blood loss condition can be treated once the source of bleeding is identified.
When anemia occurs due to reduced production of red blood cells, the doctor will have to establish the cause of such reduction before a treatment program can be developed. Most commonly, anemia may occur due to deficiency of iron in the blood, resulting in less production of healthy red blood cells. In such cases, the physician will prescribe iron supplements that contain iron in its ferrous form, which becomes absorbed faster.
During anemia treatment, it is important to watch out for any side effects. The iron supplementation programs may last for up to a year, depending on the patient’s condition. A healthy diet combined with iron supplements can reduce the risk of side effects. Consult the doctor if side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, or stomach ache occur.