Anemia is a condition in which the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to provide oxygen for the tissues so the patient is considered anemic if the number of red blood cells (RBCs) and/or the amount of healthy hemoglobin found in the red blood cells drops below normal.
Anemia is considered as the most common blood disorder in humans all over the world.
Anemia is the result of a wide variety of causes that can be isolated, but more often coexist, causes of anemia can be categorized into three large groups:
1- Impaired production
2- Increased destruction
3- Blood loss
The most significant contributor to the onset of anemia is iron deficiency, 50 % of the cases of anemia are caused by iron deficiency so that iron deficiency anemia and anemia are often used synonymously.
Classification of anemia can be done either etiologically or morphologically.
Etiological classification of anemia classifies it into
- Deficiency anemia
- Aplastic anemia
- Hemolytic anemia
- Hemorrhagic anemia
Morphological classification of anemia depends on red blood cell size to classify it into
- Macrocytic anemia
- Normocytic anemia
- Microcytic anemia.
Decreased level of functionally hemoglobin that carries oxygen from the lung to all the tissues can lead to tissue hypoxia which is the main cause of all the signs, symptoms and complications of anemia.
If anemia is mild it may not cause any symptoms and it may go undetermined in many people, also if it is chronic the body may compensate the changes and no symptoms can be observed.
Symptoms and signs of anemia range according to the severity of the condition, symptoms can be only easy fatigability , weakness , palpitations or decreased energy but also it can appear as chest pain , shortness of breath , angina , heart attack , dizziness or even multiple fainting.
On examination signs of anemia differ according to the type of anemia, it may include pallor, tachycardia, heart failure, koilonychias in iron deficiency anemia, jaundice and splenomegaly in hemolytic anemia, leg ulcers in sickle cell anemia, purpuric eruption in aplastic anemia and neurological manifestations in vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.
In addition to the previous clinical picture, anemia can be diagnosed easily by asking the patient to do a complete blood picture.
Treatment of a case of anemia usually depends on the cause and the severity of the condition, vitamins and minerals supplementations as vitamin B12, Folic acid, vitamin C and Iron can be efficient in mild cases but recombinant erythropoietin and blood transfusion are needed in more severe conditions.