Anemia is a condition where there is an abnormally low number of red blood cells circulating in the body. It is the most common disorder of the red blood cells, affecting about 3.5million Americans.
Anemia is not a disease. It is a condition that results from below-normal levels of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Hemoglobin is the iron-containing pigment of the red bloodcells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
There are many different kinds of anemia, each with its own cause. For example, a poor diet can cause anemia. The more severe types of thiscondition are often inherited.
Why Does Anemia Occur?
To understand why anemia occurs, it's important to understand the function of blood itself. Blood is a mixture of plasma (the fluid part of theblood) and cells. Its red color comes from the predominant cells found in the blood, called erythrocytes.
A healthy person has about 5 million red cells in every cubic millimeter of blood. Each cellcontains a protein (hemoglobin) that carries oxygen through the body.
The process of creating and recycling red blood cells is exceptionally complex. Trouble can occur at any point in this process. Ifthe red blood cells fail to effectively transport oxygen throughout the body, anemia can result.
Symptoms of Anemia
A person with anemia will feel tired and weak because the body's tissues are beingstarved of oxygen. In fact, fatigue is the main symptom of most types of anemia. The severity of symptoms is in part related to the severity of anemia. Mild anemia can occur without symptoms and maybe detected only during a medical exam that includes a blood test.
Symptoms of anemia include:
Heart palpitations (rapid or irregular beating)
Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Common signs include:
The normally red lining of the mouth and eyelids fades in color...