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Most Common Types of Anemia Explained | Healthcare-Online

Most Common Types of Anemia Explained 

Anemia, also known as anaemia, is a condition that occurs when the numbers of healthy red blood cells (RBCs) in the body are too low. Through the protein hemoglobin, RBCs carry oxygen to all of the body’s tissues. So many of the symptoms associated with anemia are the result of decreased oxygen delivery to the body’s tissues and organs.

The normal life span of red cells is 100 to 120 days. Any process that has a negative effect on the balance between RBC production and destruction can cause anemia. There are several types of anaemia, each with specific causes. Here we explain the4 most common types of anemia for you.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Among the 4 anemia types, this is the most common type. The body needs to get iron fromfood to make hemoglobin so as to provide enough oxygen for the organs. When the body can’t get enough iron or the absorption rate of iron can't meet the needs, iron deficiency anemia happens.

Causes

  • Chronic blood loss due to excessive menstruation, peptic ulcers, gastritis, hemorrhoids or worm infestation in children
  • Increased iron demands related to pregnancy or rapid growth spurts in infancy and adolescence
  • Decreased absorption of iron related to partial or complete removal of the stomach, lack of stomach acid, chronic diarrhea or malabsorption

Symptoms

  • A craving for strange substances or food such as clay, ice, paper or dirt. This is known as pica
  • An upward curvature of the nails
  • Soreness of the mouth with cracks located at the corners
  • A tongue that is smooth or sore
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate

Treatments

  • Oral iron supplements that contain the ferrous form of iron can be easily absorbed by the body.
  • Treat the underlying cause.
  • Make dietary changes and eat foods rich in vitamin C and iron.
  • If the anemia is severe, treatment may be received in the hospital with blood transfusions, iron injections or intravenous iron therapy.

Pernicious Anemia

Among the types of anemia, pernicious anemia is related to the absorption of B12. Folate and B12 are necessary for the body to make healthy RBCs, which mainly come from foods. Pernicious anemia happens when the body can’t absorb adequate amount of B12 to make enough RBCs.

Causes

  • Lack of intrinsic factor needed to absorb B12
  • Small intestine can’t absorb B12 related to bacteria or surgical removal of the small intestine
  • Certain diseases such as Addison’s disease, Type 1 Diabetes, Graves' disease or Vitiligo
  • Certain medications, like methotrexate, azathioprine and other antibiotics
  • Tapeworm infection
  • Lack of B12 in the diet

Symptoms

  • Common anemia symptoms such as fatigue and dizziness
  • Nerve damage leading to a tingling sensation in the hands and feet
  • Neurologic symptoms such as confusion, dementia, memory loss and depression
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, heartburn, abdominal bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Enlarged liver
  • A smooth, beefy, red tongue
  • Unsteady gait

Treatments

  • Take oral B12 supplements.
  • Make dietary changes, eating foods rich in B12 such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, breads and cereals.
  • Get B12 injections.

Pernicious anemia may require lifelong treatment.

Aplastic Anemia

Unlike the above mentioned 2 types of anemia, This type of anemia is rare yet serious. It can develop slowly or suddenly and often worsens over time. If left untreated, aplastic anemia can result in arrhythmias, an enlarged heart, heart failure, infections and bleeding. It results from the body’s inability to produce enough red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Causes

  • Damaged bone marrow stem cells
  • Radiation or chemotherapy
  • Exposure to toxins such as pesticides, arsenic and benzene
  • Certain medications such as chloramphenicol
  • Infectious diseases including hepatitis, parvovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus and HIV
  • Autoimmune disorders including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Coldness in hands and feet
  • Pale skin, gums and nail beds
  • Chest pains

Treatments

  • Treat the underlying cause.
  • Change unhealthy lifestyle, like getting enough rest, avoiding sports that may result to bleeding.
  • Remove known toxins to reduce infection.
  • When necessary, turn to blood transfusions, medications or blood and bone marrow stem cell transplants.

Hemolytic Anemia

If left untreated hemolytic anemia can lead to fatigue, pain, arrhythmia, an enlarged heart and heart failure.

Causes

  • If this anemia is acquired, it is caused by early destruction of RBCs. This can be caused by a number of diseases, conditions, factors, immune disorders, infections and reactions to medications or blood transfusions.
  • If this anemia type is inherited, it is caused by different types of faulty genesin the body that lead to the production of abnormal RBCs. The problem may involve the hemoglobin, cell membrane or enzymes that would normally maintain healthy RBCs.

Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Coldness in feet and hands
  • Pale gums, nail beds and skin
  • Chest pains
  • Jaundice
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Leg ulcers and pain
  • Severs reactions to blood transfusions

Treatments

In mild cases of hemolytic anemia, treatment may not be necessary. If the condition is severe, treatment will likely be ongoing.

  • Treat the underlying cause.
  • Take measures to protect your fingers, toes and ears from the cold, like wear gloves, scarfs and hats.
  • Take folate supplements to get relief.
  • Blood transfusions, medications, surgery or procedures may be applied.
  • Plasmapheresis, blood and marrow stem cell transplants might be needed.