What Is Anemia?
Anemia is a condition where your red blood cells do not transport enough oxygen throughout your body. Anemia can develop if your body does not produce enough red blood cells, you are bleeding faster than red blood cells can be replaced or you have a condition in which your body destroys red blood cells.
It can be caused by a wide range of conditions, including:
- Aplastic anemia, an acquired or inherited condition
- Blood cancers
- Blood disorders, like sickle cell anemia
- Colon polyps
- Colon cancer
- G6PD deficiency, a metabolic disorder
- Heavy periods
- Lack of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid in your diet
Family history, being over the age of 65, or having a history of blood or autoimmune diseases, alcoholism, toxic chemical exposure and certain medications can also increase your risk for anemia.
Anemia can leave you feeling chronically weak and tired. Other symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Cold feet and hands
- Feeling cold despite the temperature
- Irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Skin that is pale or yellowish
Depending on the type and cause of your anemia, treatment may include:
- Blood transfusions – You may need to receive donated blood through your veins to help replace lost red blood cells.
- Dietary changes – This can include eating more iron, folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin C.
- Multivitamins and supplements – Your doctor may recommend a multivitamin or iron supplement to help you get more of the nutrients your body needs to produce healthy red blood cells.
- Treating the underlying cause of anemia – If you have a chronic disease, getting the right treatment can help alleviate anemia symptoms.
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