Anemia and Its Different Types

Anemia is a condition with abnormally low levels of healthy hemoglobin. Anemia can be mild, moderate, or severe with life-threatening complications. 


1.) Iron-deficiency anemia is where iron is lost in the body for various reasons including cuts and scrapes, loss of blood in the gastrointestinal system, sweating, foot strike hemolysis, and increased turnover of red blood cells during exercise. Iron deficiency anemia is gradual, beginning when the body loses more iron than it obtains from food and other sources. Depleted red blood cells lead to fewer red blood cells develop. The early stages of anemia show red blood cells looking normal but reduced in number. The body compensates for the iron deficiency by producing more red blood cells, which are characteristically smaller than normal.



2.) Folic acid deficiency anemia is the most common type of megaloblastic anemia, where the red blood cells are larger. Folic acid is a vitamin that the body needs to produce normal cells  Folic acid deficiency results from a dietary deficiency, and at times due to an inability to absorb enough folic acid from foods. Smoking raises the risk of developing by interfering with the absorption of vitamin C, which is needed to absorb folic acid. Folic acid anemia can be a complication of pregnancy, as a woman's body needs eight times more folic acid during this time. Special vitamins are prescribed for a woman during pregnancy that contain folic acid because a deficiency in folic acid can also cause severe birth defects in the developing fetus.


3.) Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia usually means that the body is not absorbing vitamin B12 properly. This condition occurs among people who have had intestinal surgery or those who do not produce adequate amounts of gastric intrinsic factor. Healthy vegans, who eat no animal products, need to take vitamin B 12 supplements to prevent anemia. Symptoms include problems with movement or balance, a slick tongue, tingling in the hands and feet, confusion, depression, and memory loss. Pernicious anemia can also damage the spinal cord.


4.) Hemolytic anemia can be congenital and others acquire this condition, where infection or antibodies destroy red blood cells more rapidly than bone marrow can replace them. Hemolytic anemia causes the spleen to enlarge and accelerates the destruction of red blood cells. Hemolytic anemia complications include pain, shock, gallstones, and other serious health problems. Acquired hemolytic anemia can be cured when the cause is removed.


5.) Autoimmune hemolytic anemia includes warm and cold antibody hemolytic anemia. Warm antibody hemolytic anemia occurs when the body produces autoantibodies that coat red blood cells. The spleen, liver, or bone marrow destroys the coated cells. Warm antibody hemolytic anemia occurs more in women than men where one-third of patients have lymphoma, leukemia, lupus, or connective tissue disease.



6.) Sickle cell anemia is a chronic, incurable, inherited condition that causes the body to produce defective hemoglobin, where red blood cells assume an abnormal crescent shape. These sickle cells cannot hold enough hemoglobin to nourish body tissues by being unable to pass through narrow blood vessels. When capillaries are obstructed, a sickle cell crisis occurs. 


7.) Aplastic anemia is characterized by decreased red and white blood cell and platelet production. This disorder is inherited or acquired as a result of recent severe illness, long-term exposure to industrial chemicals, or the use of anticancer drugs and other medications. Aplastic anemia patients are especially susceptible to infection. Treatment for aplastic anemia involves blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants. 


8.) Anemia of chronic disease is a result of cancer, chronic infection or inflammation, and kidney and liver disease. Chronic liver failure will produce the most severe symptoms.


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