What is anemia?

Posted by   Τόλης Γεωργακόπουλος
What is anemia?

Anemia is a blood disorder in which there are insufficient red blood cells, which carry the necessary amount of oxygen to the body's tissues. Anemia can cause fatigue and weakness.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. It can be either a temporary disorder or a longer-term one and is accompanied by mild or more severe symptoms. In any case, you should consult a doctor immediately, as anemia can be a warning sign of a serious disease that coexists.

To prevent some forms of anemia you can follow a healthy diet program without missing out on any food or exaggerating.

Factors that increase the risk of developing anemia are:
Your diet (deficiency of vitamins such as iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid), bowel disorders (e.g. Crohn's disease, celiac disease), menstruation (through loss of red blood cells), pregnancy (during pregnancy it is recommended to take a folic acid supplement to prevent anemia), chronic diseases(such as cancer or kidney failure), family history (sickle cell disease), age (people over 65 are more at risk) and finally, factors such as autoimmune diseases, infections, blood diseases, exposure to toxins or alcoholism.

The most common types of anemia
Iron deficiency anemia

It is the most common form of anemia worldwide. It is a consequence of iron deficiency either due to insufficient intake or due to insufficient absorption or due to blood loss. This disorder prevents the transport of oxygen to the tissues.

Sickle cell anemia
It is an inherited disorder of the blood and more specifically of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen to the body through the blood. It is not a contagious disease. It is inherited from parents to children. A child inherits 2 globin B genes. The person with sickle cell disease has a mutation but is healthy. The carrier has an increased risk of having a child with sickle cell disease as long as his partner is also a carrier.

Mediterranean anemia
It is a serious inherited blood disorder. It refers to the inability to produce a sufficient amount of hemoglobin in the bone marrow, resulting in problems in the child's development and subsequent health.

Megaloblastic anemia
It is a severe form of anemia due to either a lack of vitamin B12 or lack of folic acid or even a combination of both. Folic acid and B12 are obtained only through diet and are not synthesized by the body alone.

Chronic anemia
It is found in cases of chronic infections and in inflammatory and neoplastic diseases. It is the next most common form of anemia after iron deficiency anemia.

Symptoms of anemia
The main symptoms of anemia include:


Thinning and pale skin

Chest pain


Cold feet-hands

The early symptoms of anemia usually go unnoticed. However, they worsen as the disorder progresses.

The treatment of anemia depends on the cause and the type.
For iron deficiency anemia, oral or intravenous iron supplements (parenteral) and dietary changes are usually recommended. For anemia due to lack of vitamins such as folic acid and B12, dietary supplements are recommended. If there is a problem of absorption by the body it can be administered in injectable form.

For anemia that results from chronic conditions, treatment focuses on the underlying disease. If symptoms worsen, a blood transfusion or other methods to restore red blood cell production and treat fatigue may be needed.

For aplastic anemia, treatment involves a blood transfusion to increase the number of red blood cells. In some cases, a bone marrow transplant may be needed if the body is unable to produce healthy blood cells.

For anemia due to bone marrow disease, treatment includes medication, chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation.

For Mediterranean anemia, blood transfusions, folic acid supplements, special medication, splenectomy or bone marrow transplantation are recommended.

In any case of a patient with anemia, a blood test is required every 3 months.


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