Anemia is a disease where there are problems with red blood cells and the amount of hemoglobin, the red blood pigment. Anemia is a disease that can be dangerous to the heart and brain. So let’s do a simple blood test that can detect or rule out anemia. Treatment should begin with determining the cause of the anemia. Read or listen to learn more about anemia. Anemia testing is very important on the early stages.
Anemia is a disease where the number of red blood cells (erythrocytes) or the level of hemoglobin in the blood (when the number of red blood cells is normal) falls below normal.
The symptoms of anemia are quite clear, but they are easy to ignore, because they resemble the state of exhaustion accompanying lack of sleep, overwork and living under severe stress. Therefore, if we have such symptoms, diagnosis and treatment should be undertaken.
Contrary to appearances, anemia is a serious disease – hemoglobin carries the oxygen necessary for life to all organs and cells. Its deficiency, occurring in anemia, is particularly acute and dangerous for the brain and heart – organs extremely sensitive to hypoxia.
The symptoms of anemia include:
• Feeling tired and weary that does not go away with rest. It is an experience that many people experience today, so it is easy to ignore it and recognize that we simply need a vacation. This is often the case, but you need to be vigilant not to miss anemia;
• Pale skin and pale mucous membranes. You can see it on the lips getting paler and even better on the conjunctiva of the eyes. When we open the lower eyelid, we should see the interior red vividly. If the eyelids are light and pale – anemia may be suspected
• Dry, brittle and falling out hair.
If you are easily short of breath after running to the bus or walking up a few steps – it can also be a symptom of anemia.
- The other symptoms of anemia depend on the type of anemia. For example, in the course of megaloblastic anemia (resulting from vitamin B12 or foilic acid deficiency), the following appear:
- Neurological disorders, disturbance of deep sensation and vibration, paraesthesia, spasticity (muscle tension), balance disorder;
- Personality changes;
- Paranoid reactions.
In turn, with folic acid deficiency, apart from general symptoms of anemia, irritability or depression is found.
Megaloblastic anemia is also characterized by early graying of the hair, which becomes thin and loses its shine, as well as inflammation of the tongue mucosa (the so-called buffalo tongue – dark red or pale with features of atrophy of the nipples), pain and changes in the corners of the mouth (angulation) and lack of appetite.
Anemia testing & diagnosis
If anemia is suspected, blood tests are performed – blood count and iron level determination (deficiency of this element is a common cause of anemia). When interpreting the test results, the following are taken into account:
• Hemoglobin (Hb) – normal test values are different for each laboratory, but for Hb they oscillate within the following limits: in women 12–16 g/dl, in men 14–18 g/dl, and in newborns 14.5–19.5 g/dL
• Red blood cells – they reach the following values: for women 4.2–5.4 million/mm3; for men 4.7–6.2 million/mm3; and for newborns 6.5–7.5 million/mm3
• Hematocrit: for women 35–47%; for men 42–52%; and for newborns 44-80% (in the first days of life)
Doctors usually recommend a bone marrow biopsy to diagnose aplastic anemia. A suspicion of aplastic anemia can be made on the basis of characteristic changes in blood count – apart from hemoglobin deficiency, there is also a decrease in the level of leukocytes (leukopenia) and a low number of platelets (thrombocytopenia). Low hemoglobin is a problem.
Treatment of anemia depends on its cause. For example, anemia caused by iron deficiency is usually treated by replacing the iron that is lacking in the body. The doctor should prescribe iron supplements that will help rebuild iron levels in the body. A proper diet is also necessary.
In the case of congenital spherocytosis, which is a genetic disease and causal treatment is not possible, drugs such as androgens, glucocorticosteroids, erythropoietin are used. The therapy also includes the transfusion of red blood cells. In severe cases, the spleen is removed.
A similar case is sickle cell anemia. In this case, the primary form of treatment for sickle cell disease is blood transfusion. Supportive treatments include antibiotic therapy, painkillers, and preparations increasing the elasticity of red blood cells.
The richest source of iron is meat and offal, less is fish and eggs. Iron is also found in whole grain products, nuts, legumes, but it is less digestible. You will find daily requirements in the liver, black pudding, egg.
The absorption of iron is influenced by the B vitamins and vitamin C. Hence, it makes sense to use fresh parsley, eat silage, spinach, lettuce, kale. An iron-rich diet should be devoid of factors that impair iron absorption, i.e. calcium from milk, phytates, tannins from tea, or whole grains. Therefore, neither tea nor milk (milk drinks) should be washed down with meat dishes. Cola also impairs iron absorption.
Long ago in folk medicine, when there were no pills, anemia was treated with raw liver and sour beetroot juice. Sour beet juice helps to organize the intestinal bacterial flora very well. It is also of great importance in the absorption of iron. Just pickle, like cucumbers, 1 kg of beetroot with garlic, and a piece of wholemeal bread crust. After a few days, pour the juice from the stone pot into bottles to keep it in the refrigerator and drink a glass every day on an empty stomach.