Anemia is a type of blood disorder that occurs when your red blood cells aren’t working properly. Your body needs these cells to carry oxygen to function properly. Without them, it can’t get the energy it requires to keep going. Some types of anemia can last for a lifetime. If left untreated, it can lead to a serious condition.
Symptoms of anemia
One of the most common symptoms of anemia is fatigue, which can make it hard to manage one’s activities.
- Dyspnea: Feeling like you can’t take a deep breath
- Dizziness: Feeling unsteady while standing or lightheaded.
- Arrhythmia: The feeling that your heart is racing or skipping beats
- Pulsatile Tinnitus: A swooshing sound in one or both of your ears.
- Headache: Anemia caused by low hemoglobin or an iron deficiency can result in headaches.
- Pale/Yellow Skin: You may find that your skin may be paler than normal.
- Chest pain: The feeling that something is squeezing or pressing on your chest
Diagnosis and tests
Anemia can be diagnosed by a healthcare provider.
Your doctor will most likely ask you about your symptoms and examine your red blood cells. Anemia occurs when you don’t have enough red blood cells.
A complete blood count is a type of test that healthcare providers use to check the number of blood cells in your body. They then analyze the size and shape of red blood cells. They can also use this to check vitamin B12 and B9 levels.
A peripheral blood smear is used by healthcare practitioners to examine one’s red blood cells.
How is it treated?
If you have anemia, your doctor will first determine if it’s caused by a serious health issue or a poor diet. If necessary, you may be referred to a hematologist (A provider who specializes in blood disorders) who can treat anemia.
If you’re suffering from an iron deficiency or pernicious anemia, your healthcare provider may suggest taking supplements or changing your diet. If you have a chronic condition that’s causing anemia, your doctor may recommend taking medication to boost the production of red blood cells. Some healthcare providers may also use blood transfusions or medications to treat anemia that’s caused by a type of abnormal red blood cell.
Certain conditions, such as hemolytic anemia and sickle cell anemia, can’t be prevented. Those with chronic diseases that can cause anemia should also watch for their symptoms. Anemia can be prevented by eating a nutritious diet.
The prognosis for people with anemia depends on its type, how severe it is, and if it’s caused by a chronic condition. Although anemia can usually be treated by taking medication or managing one’s diet, it can also be life-long.