Hematology and Oncology
Anemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells in the body decreases, hence decreasing the amount of total hemoglobin(a pigment in red blood cells responsible for the gas exchange in cells) and affecting the body’s ability to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from cells. Anemia itself is a medical sign of an underlying etiology or disease-causing it, so it should always be investigated further.
The causes of anemia can be multiple, with three basic mechanisms responsible for it:
There are genetic disorders, such as thalassemia, hemoglobinopathies, enzyme abnormalities, hereditary xerocytosis, and Fanconi anemia, in which all three mechanisms cause anemia.
Following are the main types of anemia:
Race: Certain genetic disorders such as hemoglobinopathies and thalassemia are more prevalent in some racial groups, such as Sicilians, making them more susceptible to anemia.
Socioeconomic Status: Socioeconomic conditions in developing countries are another factor. The frequency of nutritional deficiencies and even chronic infectious disorders such as tuberculosis, malaria, AIDS, etc., in these countries, is more than in developed countries.
Sex: Overall, the incidence of anemia is twice as high in females compared to males. The prevalence is more during childbearing age because of pregnancy and related complications during childbirth. Acute anemia due to traumatic causes is more prevalent in males.
Age: Genetically acquired anemias are more common in children. Acute anemia is more common in young adults with a higher incidence of trauma in this age group. Women in their childbearing age are more likely to suffer from iron-deficiency anemia. Anemia of chronic illnesses is more common during the older periods. The use of certain drugs such as aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) also increases with age, making drug-related anemias in that age group more common.
Following are the signs and symptoms of anemia:
The World Health Organization (WHO) criteria for anemia in adults is hemoglobin levels less than 13.5 g/dL for males and less than 12.5 g/dL for females.
To differentiate between different types of anemia, specific investigations are done. These include:
Differential diagnosis involves confirming anemia as the signs and symptoms of various types are interchangeable. These include:
Treatment pathways are chosen according to the type of anemia.
Medications used for anemia include:
Prognosis depends on the underlying cause of anemia. It is also affected by the following factors:
Anemia can be prevented by:
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on May 06, 2023.