Diet & Nutrition

Anemia

Description

Anemia refers to a condition where the human body does not produce enough healthy red blood cells to carry sufficient amount of oxygen to the body tissues. This inability can cause several serious or mild complications to the person diagnosed with it. It is considered one of the most common blood disorders and can make the person feel tired and sick. Anemia usually affects women and children with chronic diseases and the most appropriate treatment for this condition is having a proper and nutritious diet.

Causes and symptoms

There are many different causes of anemia, which strikes different people at different time. Below are mentioned some widely known causes of anemia.

  • Excessive blood loss during surgery, childbirth, menstruation, cancerous condition, broken blood vessels, causing shortage of red blood cell and hemoglobin

  • Lack of iron and vitamin in the body

  • Bone marrow defect

  • Weakened immune system

  • Having other medical conditions

Symptoms of the conditions are usually:

  • Fatigue and weakness

  • Pale skin

  • Shortage of breath

  • Abnormal heart rate

  • Dizziness

  • Chest pain

  • Lightheadedness

  • Headache

  • Cold hands and feet

  • Persistent fever

Diagnosis

After examining your signs and symptoms, the doctor can confirm your diagnosis by asking you and your family’s medical history and running a few tests that include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)

  • Physical examination

  • Test to determine the components and features of the blood

Some imaging tests such as CT scan, MRI, ultrasound, and PET scans may also be performed in order to find out any cancerous condition in the body that may be responsible for anemia.

Treatment

Different anemia types require different treatment methods. After the diagnosis, your doctor will find out the main cause of your condition and prepare for the treatment accordingly. There are usually two treatment methods for curing anemia, which are discussed below:

  • Medication: The main reason a person diagnose with anemia is due to the lack of red blood cells in the body. Doctors give the patient medications to produce more red blood cells in the body, which itself cures the disease. For instance, if the patient is suffering from iron deficiency anemia, the doctor will prescribe iron supplements other forms of anemia may require different medications. Furthermore, antibiotics are also given to the patient to prevent infection and women are prescribed drugs to stop abnormal or heavy bleeding during menstruation.

  • Blood transfusion: If the red blood cell count is too low, doctors may recommend a blood transfusion to quickly boost the blood count by transmitting the blood from a donor with the same blood group.

  • Bone marrow transplantation: If bone marrow of the patient is not able to produce healthy blood cells due to cancerous defect or any other chronic disease, bone marrow transplantation may also be performed to replace the weaker bone marrow with a healthy one.

  • Dietary change: Even though a slow process, but greatly effective and complication less treatment method for curing anemia where the patient is advised to eat iron and vitamin rich food such as vegetables, meats, fruits, eggs, etc. to increase the blood count. Dietary change combined with medications provides quick and better results.

Complications

Although the treatment of anemia is quite safe, there may few mild complications associated with it to particular patients. These complications could be:

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Constipation

  • Stomach upset

  • Low blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • Ulcers

  • Inflammation in stomach

  • Thalassemia (hemoglobin disease)

  • Premature infants

  • Heartburn

  • Bleeding

  • Black stools

  • Headaches

  • Pregnancy complications

Post operative care

Treatment of anemia generally continues for a few weeks and the patient will begin feeling healthier soon after taking medications and changing their diet.

Make sure to take your prescription as directed and follow a nutritious diet guided by your dietician.

You will have to visit your doctor soon for blood test to check your RBC and hemoglobin level.

There is a possibility that your iron level may increase again after a good recovery due to pregnancy or having continuous periods. In such cases, you will be prescribed with iron supplements to prevent anemia from returning.

Notify your doctor once if you experience any of the above mentioned complications.