The fact that more than 2 billion people around the world suffer from anaemia may shock you. But did you know that this disorder is easily curable if it is identified in its early stages? Now you might be wondering how you can figure out if you have this disease and you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to help. Read all about the different signs, symptoms and types of anaemia, so that you know when it is the right time to see a doctor about it.
What is Anaemia?
Scientifically speaking, anaemia is a condition of the body where the Red Blood Cells (RBCs) are either inadequate in number or unhealthy (do not have enough haemoglobin in them). Haemoglobin is a crucial component of RBCs and carries oxygen to all the cells of the body. As a result, people with anaemia have low levels of oxygen throughout their bodies.
This condition can seriously hamper healthy body functioning since oxygen in the blood is critical to keeping your organs healthy. The good news is, anaemia triggers some distinct symptoms. To know if a person is anaemic, just look out for these signs and symptoms to facilitate early diagnosis and recovery.
Since anaemia can happen to anyone and is not restricted to any sex or age group, it is best that everyone should monitor themselves regularly for the appearance of these primary signs and symptoms of anaemia:
- Unusual levels of fatigue
- Pale skin and nails (nails break easily)
- General weakness
- Unusually high irritability
- Constant headaches
- Cold hands and feet
- Sudden palpitations (rapid, strong, and/or irregular heartbeat)
- Frequent dizziness
- Mild to severe chest pain with physical exercise
- More than usual shortness of breath after exercising
- Loss of consciousness (severe anaemia)
- Delayed or irregular menstrual bleeding
- Poor growth in children
- Complications during pregnancy (affects both mother and the baby)
- Cravings for soil, chalk, clay or ice
To be able to better understand the significance and severity of these warning signs, you need to know what are the different types of anaemia. Based on the classification as per the causes, there can be as many as 8 to 9 different types of anaemia.
1. Anaemia Due to the Destruction of RBCs
RBCs contain haemoglobin that is responsible for carrying oxygen. This oxygen is supplied to all parts of the body through the RBCs and when RBCs are destroyed, it leads to a severe lack of oxygenation in the body. Destruction of RBCs can happen because of many reasons, but 2 prominent reasons for it are:
|Hemolytic Anaemia (Non-Immune)||Autoimmune Hemolytic Anaemia|
|Like all cells, RBCs have a specific lifetime in the bloodstream, after which they are destroyed. However, when RBCs are destroyed before the completion of their lifespan (prematurely), this leads to Hemolytic anaemia.||Autoimmune hemolytic anaemia occurs when antibodies in the immune system destroy RBCs. This happens when the immune system mistakes RBCs as unwanted foreign particles.|
2. Anaemia Due to Excess Bleeding
Anaemia is characterised by the loss of RBCs and this can be not only due to the destruction of RBCs but also the loss of blood. This can happen due to excessive blood loss during menstruation in women (Menorrhagia) or due to piles and internal bleeding in both men and women.
3. Anaemia Due to Nutritional Deficiencies
Certain micronutrients like Vitamin C are known to catalyse the absorption of iron in the body. When there is a dearth of minerals like Iron and vitamins like C, B9 and B12, this can also lead to anaemia. Such anaemia is usually called Pernicious and Iron Deficiency Anaemia.
4. Anaemia Due to Drug Toxicity
It occurs when the body’s immune system responds to a particular medicine (or drug) and begins to attack the RBCs. This is also known as drug-induced autoimmune hemolytic anaemia. It results in the breakdown of RBCs (known as hemolysis) and therefore leads to anaemia.
5. Anaemia Due to Worm Infestations
Anaemia can also occur as a result of hookworm infestation in the gut. Hookworms can reside inside the body (endoparasites) and leech off of your nutrition. However, this can cause internal bleeding which in turn often leads to anaemic conditions.
6. Anaemia Due to Bone Marrow Disorders
RBCs are made inside the red bone marrow and when your bone marrow fails to produce enough RBCs, this leads to anaemic conditions. This type of anaemia is often referred to as aplastic anaemia.
7. Hereditary or Acquired Anaemia
There may be certain hereditary defects in your RBCs that could lead to the formation of abnormal haemoglobin. This type of haemoglobin reduces the lifespan of RBCs which means your RBCs are destroyed prematurely. Eg: sickle cell anaemia (the shape of RBC is like a sickle), thalassemia.
8. Anaemia Due to Other Diseases
Anaemic conditions may also occur as comorbidities with other diseases. For example, diseases like chronic inflammatory conditions, autoimmune disorders, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease, etc may sometimes cause anaemia as well (mostly due to insufficient absorption of iron, B9 and B12 by the body).
9. Anaemia Due to Unknown Causes
In cases where no correctable causes for anaemia can be found. Although this condition is very rare, this type of anaemia (idiopathic anaemia) is still undergoing a lot of research and clinical testing.
- Anaemia is a curable condition where the RBCs are insufficient in number or inefficient in quality (do not have enough haemoglobin to oxygenate the entire body with).
- Anaemia has several evident as well as obscure signs and symptoms, meaning you will have to closely monitor these signs if you think you might be Anaemic.
- There are different types of anaemia based on causes.
- These include – Blood loss anaemia, hemolytic anaemias, vitamin deficiency anaemia, iron deficiency anaemia, drug-induced immune hemolytic anaemia, aplastic anaemia, sickle cell anaemia and many others.
With knowledge of all the possible signs and symptoms, you may now have some idea about when it is the right time to consult a doctor. Nevertheless, it is always safer to consult your nearest healthcare practitioner and follow the suggested treatment and dietary modifications. This will empower you with good health and keep save you from serious complications that may follow with untreated anaemia.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.