ANAEMIA: Recognising Signs, Symptoms, Causes And Treatment 

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Source: Wikipedia Commons

ANAEMIA is a term generally used to refer to a reduction in the capacity of the body to transport oxygen; often arising due to a decrease in the quantity of oxygen transport molecule (haemoglobin) and/or red blood cells in the blood. This may result in decreased movement of oxygen into tissues and subsequent oxygen deficiency. This can have significant health consequences. 

What are the features of anaemia? 

Anaemia may often go unnoticed. The principal characteristics of anaemia are: excessive fatigue, breathlessness, immunosuppression and pale skin. People with anaemia may also experience poor concentration as well as irregular heart rhythms 

What causes anaemia? 

Anaemia can arise for a number of different reasons.  

Haemolytic anaemia is a form of anaemia that may result when there is excessive destruction of red blood cells. This is may be due to toxins; the effect of parasites (such as in malaria); autoimmunity; disorders linked with atypical forms of haemoglobin (e.g sickle-cell disease, thalassaemia); disorders due to atypical forms of red blood cells (e.g spherocytosis) or autoimmunity.   

Haemorrhagic anaemia generally refers to anaemia due to excessive blood loss. This may occur acutely, for instance, as a result of an operation or chronically, for instance, bleeding from haemorrhoids.  

Iron-deficiency anaemia is a popular form of anaemia linked to poor red blood cell production; it is attributed to inadequate levels of iron for sufficient production of haemoglobin to meet the body’s needs.  

How is anaemia treated? 

The treatment for anaemia should ideally be based on the cause. Over the counter oral iron preparations are the preferred treatment choice in most cases; however these should be avoided where there may be serious underlying causes of anaemia (e.g gastric erosion). 

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