February 1, 2017

Anemia is a condition that occurs when there are not enough red blood cells or hemoglobin to carry oxygen to the other cells in the body.
Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a protein that enables them to carry oxygen from the lungs and deliver it to all parts of the body. When the number of red blood cells is reduced or the amount of hemoglobin in them is low, the blood cannot carry an adequate supply of oxygen. An inadequate supply of oxygen in the tissues produces the symptoms of anemia.
There are a number of different types of anemia. Some types present only mild health problems, while others are much more severe. Each type of anemia results from one of these factors –
• The body cannot make enough hemoglobin
• The body makes hemoglobin, but the hemoglobin doesn’t work right
• The body does not make enough red blood cells
• The body breaks down red blood cells too fast
Anemia can affect anyone, but women are at greater risk for this condition. In women, iron and red blood cells are lost when bleeding occurs from very heavy or long periods (menstruation). Anemia is common in pregnancy because a woman needs to have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen around her body and to her baby. So it’s important to prevent anemia before, during and after pregnancy.
Anemia currently affects more than 3 million Americans and an estimated 1.62 billion people in the world. Anemia is not strictly a disease, but a disorder. It is often a byproduct of other diseases that disrupt the body’s ability to produce healthy red blood cells.
Types of Anemia
• Vitamin deficiency anemia, megaloblastic anemia, is caused by a lack of folic acid and vitamin B12 in your body.
• Anemia of chronic disease is caused when certain chronic diseases (such as cancer, kidney failure, or Crohn’s disease) interfere with the production of red blood cells.
• Aplastic anemia is caused when bone marrow cannot make all three types of blood cells. Aplastic anemia is life threatening.
• Hemolytic anemia is caused when red blood cells are destroyed faster than the bone marrow can replace them.
• Sickle cell anemia is caused by a type of hemoglobin that makes red blood cells form a crescent or sickle shape. These sickle cells die early, meaning the body is always short of red blood cells. The abnormal shape can block blood flow through small vessels, causing pain. Sickle cell anemia is an inherited condition that affects mainly people of African, Mediterranean, Arabic, or South American descent.
Blood loss – When the amount of blood lost is greater than your body’s ability to replace the lost red blood cells, you can become anemic. Women who experience heavy menstrual periods, for example, and people who have internal bleeding due to ulcers or other digestive problems are at the greatest risk for anemia. Sometimes this type of blood loss is silent and unrecognized until anemia shows up on a blood test. External bleeding from surgery or trauma also can cause anemia.
Low production of red blood cells – Even if a person is not bleeding, old red blood cells constantly need to be replaced with new ones.
A number of factors can cause your body to produce too few red blood cells, or red blood cells lacking in sufficient hemoglobin.
These include:
• Diet – If the diet is lacking in foods containing iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, and other essential nutrients, your red blood cell production can falter.
• Medical conditions – Chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and HIV/AIDS can interfere with the body’s ability to produce red blood cells. Women who are pregnant also can become anemic.
• Genetic disorders – Children can inherit conditions, like aplastic anemia, that prevent them from producing enough red blood cells. Inherited conditions like sickle cell anemia and hemolytic anemia also can prompt the body to destroy red blood cells.
• Increased red blood cell destruction – Certain diseases can cause the body to turn on its own red blood cells and destroy them. For example, a person can become anemic due to an illness that affects the spleen, the organ that normally removes worn-out red blood cells from the body. A diseased or enlarged spleen can begin removing more red blood cells than necessary.
Pregnancy – Women who are pregnant or who are breastfeeding need more iron than women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding. That’s why pregnant women often are tested for anemia and why they need to eat more iron-rich foods or take a daily iron pill.
The following may increase your risk of anemia during pregnancy –
• Vomiting a lot from morning sickness
• Not getting enough iron-rich foods
• Having heavy periods before pregnancy
• Having 2 pregnancies close together
• Being pregnant with twins, triplets or more
• Becoming pregnant as a teenager
• Losing a lot of blood (for example, from an injury or during surgery)
Lead Poisoning – Lead can induce two types of anemia
• Acute high-level lead exposure has been associated with hemolytic anemia.
• Frank anemia is not an early manifestation of lead exposure and is evident only when the BLL is significantly elevated for prolonged periods.
• In chronic lead exposure, lead induces anemia by both interfering with heme biosynthesis and by diminishing red blood cell survival.
• The anemia of lead intoxication is hypochromic, and normo- or microcytic with associated reticulocytosis.

Risk Factors
Women – Blood loss during monthly periods and childbirth can lead to anemia.
Children, ages 1 to 2 – The body needs more iron during growth spurts.
Infants – Infants may get less iron when they are weaned from breast milk or formula to solid food. Iron from solid food is not as easily taken up by the body.
People over 65 – People over 65 are more likely to have iron-poor diets.
People on blood thinners – aspirin, Plavix,® Coumadin,® or heparin.
Because a low red blood cell count decreases oxygen delivery to every tissue in the body, anemia can cause a variety of signs and symptoms. It can also worsen the symptoms of almost any other underlying medical condition. If anemia is mild, it may not cause any symptoms.
Symptoms of anemia may include the following –
• Fatigue
• Decreased energy
• Weakness
• Shortness of breath
• Lightheadedness
• Palpitations (feeling of the heart racing or beating irregularly)
• Looking pale
Symptoms of severe anemia may include –
• Chest pain, angina, or heart attack;
• Dizziness
• Fainting or passing out
• Rapid heart rate
Some of the signs that may indicate anemia in an individual may include:
• Change in stool color, including black and tarry stools (sticky and foul smelling), maroon-colored, or visibly bloody stools if the anemia is due to blood loss through the gastrointestinal tract
• Rapid heart rate
• Low blood pressure
• Rapid breathing
• Pale or cold skin
• Yellow skin called jaundice if anemia is due to red blood cell breakdown
• Heart murmur
• Enlargement of the spleen with certain causes of anemia
Medications –
• Erythropoietin plus iron for anemia of chronic disease. Erythropoietin is a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells.
• Corticosteroids (such as prednisone) for some hemolytic anemias. Corticosteroids suppress the immune system, and may help when anemia is caused by an autoimmune disorder.
• Medications that suppress the immune system, such as antithymocyte globulin or ATG and cyclosporine for aplastic anemia.
Surgeries –
• Removal of the spleen (splenectomy) may be needed in cases of hereditary spherocytosis.
• Transfusions may help treat certain types of anemia, including anemia of chronic disease, sickle cell anemia, and aplastic anemia.
• Bone marrow or stem cell transplant may be used in severe cases of aplastic anemia, or some cases of sickle cell anemia.
Alternative Treatment
Iron Supplements – Ferrous fumerate, glycerate, or sulfate are the forms of iron your body can absorb most easily. Even a little excess iron can be fatal.
Vitamin C – This helps the body absorb iron, so foods high in this vitamin (including citrus fruits and juices, broccoli, cauliflower, and sweet peppers) should accompany meals with iron-rich foods.
Hydrochloric acid, normally produced by the stomach, is needed for the body to use iron and may be low in some people. Supplementation with hydrochloric acid at mealtimes may be helpful for people with this problem.
Vitamin B12 – Increasing intake of iron, folate, and vitamin B12 can be accomplished with supplements, but including more whole foods rich in these nutrients in your diet is generally a more healthful idea for mild cases.
Folic acid (400 to 1,000 mcg per day) can be taken for folic acid deficiency, which can cause anemia. Folic acid may interact with the chemotherapy drugs 5-fluorouracil and capecitabine (Xeloda). It may also interact with the antiseizure drugs phenytoin (Dilantin), phenobarbital, and primidone (Mysoline).
Dong quai – This herb is rich in vitamins and minerals.
Chive – This vegetable is rich in vitamin C and iron – eat fresh chives.
Quinoa – This is a grain rich in all eight essential amino acids that form a complete protein.
Gentian – The bitter herb gentian is popular in England for the treatment of anemia.
Dandelion is also believed to help people with anemia. It is very rich in vitamins and minerals.
Other herbs that are of interest to those suffering from anemia include alfalfa, bilberry, burdock root, cherry, goldenseal, grape skins, hawthorn berry, horsetail, mullein, parsley, nettle, Oregon grape root, pau d’arco, red raspberry, shepherd’s purse, watercress, and yellow dock root.
Complementary Treatment
Acupressure for Anemia – Pressure applied to specific points, such as along the liver and kidney meridians, can stimulate blood circulation and the production of energy, or qi.
Detoxification, Fasting, and Colon Therapy for Anemia – Fasting may be helpful in a few cases to encourage better nutrient absorption.
Hydrotherapy for Anemia – Various treatments can improve circulation.

Reference –

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