Anaemia is the decrease in the total amount of red blood cells or haemoglobin within the blood. It is the most common blood disorder and affects one third of the global population.
Iron deficiency is the most prevalent deficiency state on a worldwide basis and interestingly enough, in the United States, 12% of all women of childbearing age have iron deficiency, compared with only 2% of adult men.
There are two main kinds of anaemia
- The first is from blood loss
The most common causes of blood loss are from surgery, childbirth or from very heavy periods. Other less obvious causes are from gastrointestinal tract loss such as bleeding peptic ulcers or from intestinal worms, especially in children.
2. Decreased blood production.
The most common reason that less blood is produced is due to decreased iron intake. Following which is the reduced intake or absorption of vitamin B12.
Symptoms of Anaemia
*Feeling tired or weak
*Possibly feeling light headed or notice that you’re more short of breath on exertion.
*Hair thinning may occur
*Restless legs syndrome (linked more with anaemia due to iron deficiency)
If you notice any of these things or suspect that you may be anaemic, it is important to make an appointment to have some blood tests done and to discover the cause. Treatment can then be tailored to treat the underlying reason, eg treating a peptic ulcer or managing heavy periods. Treatment often involves taking an oral iron tablet supplement or an intravenous iron infusion as well as/or vitamin B12 injections. Blood transfusion are generally used in severe cases.
Sometimes ones’ iron or vitamin B12 levels are low but not sufficiently low enough to cause anaemia. You may still have some of the symptoms however, and adding an iron or vitamin B12 supplement can assist.
Anaemia is a common disorder and relatively simple to diagnose and manage with an improvement in symptoms. If you have any concerns, please do come in for a consultation.
Contributor: Dr Susan Ford – Medical Doctor at FEMINA HEALTH