Anemia is a condition characterized by a decrease in the number of red blood cells and hemoglobin levels, leading to inadequate delivery of nutrients and oxygen to meet the body’s needs. Jonathan from Nigeria said, and I quote.
Rural areas where there is insufficient intake of iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid, anemia is the leading cause of death. These nutrients are required for the production of blood cells, a process called haemopoiesis.
Red blood cells, or erythrocytes, are produced in the pluripotent stem cells of the bone marrow, which is found in the long bones, flat bones, and irregular bones. Meanwhile, white blood cells, or leukocytes, are also produced in the bone marrow, aiding in immunity to fight bacteria, invading microbes, and foreign bodies. Platelets or thrombocytes are also part of the blood cells, helping in blood clotting and preventing excessive bleeding. Plasma protein, such as albumin and fibrinogen, make the blood thick and viscous, preventing excessive blood loss.
Anemia can occur due to a reduction in the number of red blood cells in circulation. This can result from decreased erythropoiesis, haemorrhage, excessive haemolysis, and other factors like the production of defective erythrocytes, bone marrow disorders, exposure to chemical poisons, infections, toxins, antibodies to red blood cells, or autoimmune reactions. Clinical investigations like haemoglobin estimation, chest x-ray, genotype test, white blood cell count, red blood cell count, stool analysis, occult blood test, bone marrow puncture, and history of drug, bleeding, and diet can help to diagnose anemia.
There are different types of anemia, including iron deficiency anemia, vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, hemolytic anemia, and aplastic anemia. Iron deficiency anemia results from a reduced level of iron in the blood, leading to pale and small red blood cells with less hemoglobin. Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is caused by a lack of vitamin B12, which is essential for blood formation. Hemolytic anemia occurs when red blood cells are destroyed faster than they are produced normally. Aplastic anemia results from bone marrow failure or disorder.
Signs and symptoms of anemia may include pallor, dry hair, cyanosis, cold clammy skin, rapid pulse, irregular menstruation, amenorrhea, brittle skin, headache, dizziness, anorexia, confusion, increased respiration, angina pectoris, constipation, flatulence, and fainting or syncope. If not well-managed, anemia can lead to complications like cardiomegaly, heart failure, renal failure, brain damage, organ infarction, and total organ failure, which can result in death.