A person’s bloodstream is responsible for the transportation of oxygen throughout the body through red blood cells. When a person suffers from anemia, their red blood cells aren’t adequately transferring this precious energy to the rest of the body.
Anemia comes in several different forms. It can vary greatly in terms of severity. Sometimes anemia is a temporary condition, while other people suffer from it as a long term issue. Some of the various types of anemia include sickle cell anemia, iron deficiency anemia, aplastic anemia, vitamin deficiency anemia, and thalassemia. The causes and treatment of each can vary, though the symptoms tend to be fairly similar if they occur.
Causes of Common Anemias
Since there are differing types of anemia, there are also different causes. The most common form and cause is iron deficiency. In these cases, a person doesn’t have enough iron, which in turn means they don’t produce enough red blood cells. Iron needs to be supplemented. Vitamin deficiency anemia is caused by a similar lack of substances within the body. Specifically, the body lacks folate and/or vitamin B-12. Aplastic anemia is caused by exposure to chemicals, medications, infections or some diseases. Sickle cell anemia is caused when red blood cells actually form an odd shape that looks like a sickle, instead of the round shape most people know. These cells die too quickly, so the body is always lacking in red blood cells.
Symptoms of Anemia
Symptoms of anemia start slow. Early stages of anemia may show no symptoms or they will be very light. As anemia gets worse, the symptoms are more likely to manifest. In some cases, however, people may show no symptoms at all. This may depend on the type and cause of anemia a person is dealing with. Some of the symptoms to look out for include:
- Feeling Weak
- Feeling Fatigued
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Chest Pain
- Pale or Yellowed Skin
- Cold Feet and/or Hands
- Struggling for Breath
- Feeling Dizzy or Lightheaded.
Treatment for anemia will depend on the type of anemia that a person suffers from. People who suffer from iron deficient anemia will not have the same treatment as those who have sickle cell anemia. A doctor should always be responsible for designing each treatment plan. Some common options that are chosen are:
- Iron Supplements - These are taken orally and intended for iron deficient anemia.
- Iron Injections - Many people are unable to take a supplement orally. They don’t process the iron correctly. An iron injection works to replenish the amount of iron that’s within the body, so that it can produce more red blood cells.
- Iron Infusions - Also for iron deficiency anemia, this delivery method for iron is through an IV or as opposed to an injection. Iron infusions can deliver iron quickly to assist and help.
- Dietary Supplements - This is the main way to help cure vitamin deficiency anemia. Supplements will be chosen depending on the vitamins that a person is deficient in.
- Blood Treatment - Many of the more dangerous types of anemia require blood transfusions in order to increase the amount of red blood cells within the body.
- Surgeries - Some major surgeries can be needed. A bone marrow transplant could be necessary if the bone marrow of an aplastic anemia patient won’t work.