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Anaemia

Anèmia

Anaemia is caused by a decrease in red blood cells, also called erythrocytes, resulting in a drop in haemoglobin levels. Red blood cells are primarily concerned with the transport of oxygen to different tissues. Anaemia can be caused by a blood disease, but it can also be a manifestation of other diseases.

Description

What happens when someone has multiple anaemia?

Anaemia appears when haemoglobin levels fall from normal age and sex-dependent values, which are indicated to us in the results of tests conducted, although there are small differences between some laboratories and others.

As a consequence, patients do not have enough oxygen-rich blood, which causes them to feel tired, weak and dizzy or to have palpitations and headache, among other symptoms. It is very important to know the causes, but also to administer treatment, since serious or prolonged anaemia can affect the heart, brain and other organs.

Blood has different components, including red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. In some types of anaemia, all of these are less abundant.

There are three main causes of anaemia:

  • Blood loss
  • Lack of red blood cell production
  • Higher rate of red blood cell destruction

If you have signs or symptoms of anaemia, see your doctor. If the disease is diagnosed, treatment depends on the cause and severity. There are many types of anaemia that have specific causes and characteristics:

  • Iron deficiency anaemia
  • Anaemia due to lack of folic acid (folate)
  • Pernicious anaemia due to vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Anaemia due to excessive bleeding
  • Aplastic anaemia
  • Haemolytic anaemia
  • Others: thalassaemia, sickle cell anaemia, related to other diseases

 

The symptoms

The most common symptom of anaemia is tiredness and the feeling of exhaustion and weakness. People with anaemia have a hard time finding enough energy to do their usual activities.

Other signs and symptoms of anaemia may come about because the heart has to work harder to pump oxygen-rich blood through the body. These include:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Pallor
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations

 

Who is affected by anaemia? 

According to WHO reports, anaemia affects 1.62 billion people worldwide, 24.8% of the population, depending largely on the economic situation of countries.

Prevalence is highest among preschool children and lowest among men. The population group with the highest number of affected people, however, is non-pregnant women.

 

Diagnosis

Because anaemia does not always produce symptoms, your doctor may discover it during tests. At a routine appointment or for other reasons, your doctor may ask you if you have any of the signs or symptoms of anaemia, or if you have had a disease or health problem that may cause it.

To determine the severity of the disease and to find out its origin, a small test needs to be done, which should include the following examinations:

  • Heart scan
  • Lung scan
  • Abdominal scan

Your doctor may also perform a pelvic or rectal exam to detect sources of blood loss.

Blood tests help determine the type of anaemia and how severe it is. Among the tests indicated, a full blood count (haemogram) is the most common. 

Sometimes, other tests will need to be done:

  • Reticulocyte count: to determine the number of young red blood cells (reticulocytes) in the blood and whether the bone marrow is producing red blood cells at the proper rate.
  • Tests to establish iron levels in the blood and body: these include serum ferritin and iron. Transferrin and total iron uptake are also tests that measure iron levels.
  • Haemoglobin studies: to assess the different types of haemoglobin in the blood, which can be used to diagnose a certain group of hereditary anaemias such as thalassaemia.
  • Tests to determine the deficit of maturation factors (vitamin B12 and folic acid).

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