Blood Disorders & Diseases
Anemia is a medical condition in which the red blood cell count or the hemoglobin is less than normal. The normal level of hemoglobin is generally different in males and females. For men, a normal hemoglobin level is typically defined as a level of more than 13.5 gram/100 ml, and in women as hemoglobin of more than 12.0 gram/100 ml. These definitions may vary slightly depending on the source and the laboratory reference used.
Anemia is the most common blood disorder, and according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, it affects more than 3 million Americans.
Red blood cells carry hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that attaches to oxygen in the lungs and carries it to tissues throughout the body. Anemia occurs when you do not have enough red blood cells or when your red blood cells do not function properly. It is diagnosed when a blood test shows a hemoglobin value of less than 13.5 gm/dl in a man or less than 12.0 gm/dl in a woman. Normal values for children vary with age.
When you have anemia, your body lacks oxygen, so you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Iron-deficiency anemia may be caused by the following:
Diets low in iron. Iron is obtained from foods in our diet; however, only 1 mg of iron is absorbed for every 10 to 20 mg of iron ingested. A person unable to have a balanced iron-rich diet may suffer from some degree of iron-deficiency anemia.
Body changes. An increased iron requirement and increased red blood cell production is required when the body is going through changes, such as growth spurts in children and adolescents, or during pregnancy and lactation.
Gastrointestinal tract abnormalities. Malabsorption of iron is common after some forms of gastrointestinal surgeries. Most of the iron taken in by foods is absorbed in the upper small intestine. Any abnormalities in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract could alter iron absorption and result in iron-deficiency anemia. Surgery or medications that stop stomach acid production will also decrease iron absorption.
Blood loss. Loss of blood can cause a decrease of iron and result in iron-deficiency anemia. Sources of blood loss may include GI bleeding, menstrual bleeding, or injury.