Anemia if not treated for a long period can lead to serious complications. These include heart failure, severe weakness and poor immunity. Anemia is a medical condition in which the person does not have enough red blood cells or RBCs. The RBCs in the blood carry iron a specialized protein called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin helps carry oxygen within the RBCs to various organs all through the body. Routine blood investigations may report anemia as low hemoglobin or hematocrit.
There are many serious complications related to anemia, such as:
- Low immunity and frequent infections
- Heart conditions: Anemia or low red blood cell count make the heart work harder to pump the oxygen-rich blood through the body to meet the demand of the cells. When the heart has to work harder, it can lead to several conditions such as arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), heart attack and heart failure
- Developmental issues in children
- Pregnancy-related complications such as premature birth, abortions and low birth weight babies
What are the different types of anemia?
There are different types of anemia depending upon the cause:
- Iron-deficiency anemia: It is usually due to nutritional deficiencies such as iron, folic acid or B12 deficiency. Your doctor will investigate the cause of iron-deficiency anemia through various tests. Nutritional deficiencies are fixed through changes in diet or by taking supplements. If there is a problem with the absorption of vitamin B12, your doctor may prescribe B12 injections.
- Anemia due to chronic disease: If the anemia is due to a chronic condition such as chronic kidney disease, hypothyroidism or chronic infections, treatment of the underlying medical condition will often improve the anemia. In certain conditions, such as chronic kidney diseases, the doctor may prescribe other medications such as erythropoietin injections. These medications stimulate the bone marrow to make more red blood cells.
- Aplastic anemia: This type of anemia occurs when the bone marrow stops producing red blood cells. Treatment for aplastic anemia may include blood transfusions or a bone marrow transplant besides other therapy depending upon the root cause and severity of aplastic anemia.
- Hemolytic anemia: The cause for hemolysis can often be determined by special blood tests and by examining the red blood cells under a microscope. The treatment will depend upon the cause of anemia and may include removing the culprit medication, referral to a heart or vascular specialist, antibiotics or drugs that suppress the immune system.
The most common type of anemia is due to deficiency of iron in the body, called iron-deficiency anemia.
How does having anemia feel like?
A person with anemia generally looks pale or feels week, more tired or cold than they usually do. This is because their organs do not receive adequate oxygen because of anemia. They may experience the following symptoms:
What are the complications of anemia during pregnancy?
Anemia during pregnancy increases the chance of complications, such as:
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight babies
- Increased risk of abortions
- Puerperal sepsis (post-partum infections)
- Increased blood loss during delivery
- Increased risk of post-delivery depression
The demand for several nutrients, including iron, increases during pregnancy. This makes the pregnant female more likely to develop iron-deficiency anemia. The unborn baby depends on the mother for their iron needs. Pregnant women must follow a healthy diet and take nutrient supplements as and when advised by their doctor