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- Anemia facts
- What is anemia?
- What causes anemia?
- Can inadequate iron cause anemia?
- Can inadequate iron cause anemia? (Continued)
- What about acute (sudden) blood loss as a cause of anemia?
- What are other causes of anemia?
- Can anemia be hereditary?
- What are the symptoms of anemia?
- How is anemia diagnosed?
- What is a complete blood cell (CBC) count?
- How is blood collected for a CBC?
- What is the red blood cell (RBC) count?
- What is hemoglobin?
- What does a low hemoglobin level mean?
- What is the hematocrit?
- How is hematocrit determined?
- How is anemia treated?
- What are the complications of anemia?
- What is the outlook (prognosis) for anemia?
What causes anemia?
Any process that can disrupt the normal life span of a red blood cell may cause anemia. Normal life span of a red blood cell is typically around 120 days. Red blood cells are made in the bone marrow.
Anemia is caused essentially through two basic pathways. Anemia is caused by either:
- a decrease in production of red blood cells or hemoglobin, or
- an increase in loss or destruction of red blood cells.
A more common classification of anemia (low hemoglobin) is based on the Mean Corposcular Volume (MCV) which signifies the average volume of individual red blood cells.
- If the MCV is low (less than 80), the anemia is categorized as microcytic anemia (low cell volume).
- If the MCV is in the normal range (80-100), it is called a normocytic anemia (normal cell volume).
- If the MCV is high, then it is called a macrocytic anemia (large cell volume).
Looking at each of the components of a complete blood count (CBC), especially the MCV, a physician can gather clues as to what could be the most common reason for anemia in each patient.