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Anaemia – Introduction, Causes, Symptoms and Types

Anaemia is a condition in which the red blood cells count decreases. Anaemia may be defined as a condition in which there is a decrease in the quantity of haemoglobin or in the number of red cells. The raw materials required in the production of these cells are iron, proteins, and vitamins, especially folic acid and B12. Of these, iron and proteins are essential in building up the red colouring matter called hemoglobin. When a person turns anaemic, his body tissues get lesser amount of oxygen.
The oxygen-carrying capacity is insufficient to meet physiologic needs, which vary by age, sex, altitude, smoking, and pregnancy status.
Red blood cells contain hemoglobin (Hb), a red, iron-rich protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to all of the body’s muscles and organs.

Causes of Anaemia

– Deficiency of iron is an important cause for anaemia.
– Excessive red blood cell destruction (‘haemolysis’).
– Deficient red blood cell production.
– Sudden blood loss.
– Improper diet.
– Women after conceiving a child suffer from iron deficiency that eventually leads to anaemia.
– Internal bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract.
– Diet low in vitamin B12 or folic acid.
– Lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach or intestinal parasites or worms.
– Blood diseases such as leukaemia.
– Intestinal parasites or worms.
– Certain inherited blood diseases eg. thalassaemia- Infections, such as malaria.
– The body needs more iron when a large amount of cell divisions occur, such as in pregnancy and during periods of rapid childhood growth.

Signs and Symptoms of Anaemia

– Weakness and fatigue.
– Dull and Tiredness.
– Lack of energy.
– Shortness of breath.
– Premature wrinkles.
– Lack of stamina.
– Headache.
– Impaired memory and ability to think.
– Being intolerant of cold temperatures.
– Rapid pulse.

Types of Anaemia

Iron Deficiency Anaemia: The body is running low on iron. The body needs iron to successfully produce haemoglobin the substance that carries oxygen throughout the body. The body is loosing blood faster than it is making it. This can be caused by gastritis, piles, stomach cancer, ulcers or bowel cancer.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anaemia: Lack of folic acid, one of the B group of vitamins, in the bloodstream is the main cause of this deficiency. Alcoholism and inadequate intake of folic acid are the main causes of this deficiency.
Pernicious Anaemia: It mostly affects people between the ages of 50 and 60 and is a result of a lack of vitamin B12. Symptoms include fatigue, dyspnea, heart palpitations and numbness or tingling in extremities.
Aplastic anaemia: This is caused by an absence or reduction of red blood cells. This can happen through injury where the blood forming tissue in the bone marrow is destroyed. Symptoms include lethargy, paleness, bleeding, rapid heartbeat, infections and congestive heart failure.
Sickle Cell Anaemia: It is a result of an abnormal type of red blood cells. It is life threatening.

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