Posted on: November 26, 2008 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 0

Your blood is a very complex body fluid. For vertebrates, at least, the blood is composed of blood cells in a liquid called blood plasma. Plasma, on the other hand, is composed mostly of 90% water as well as dissolved proteins, hormones, ions, glucose, and carbon dioxide. It also has white blood cells, the body’s guards and soldiers against attacking invaders such as bacteria and viruses, and the platelets, responsible for making blood clot

Among the different cell types that comprise the blood, one of the most important are the red blood cells. Also known as haematids or erythrocytes, the red blood cells deliver oxygen to the different organs of the body, through molecules called hemoglobins. When there is not enough red blood cells for this critical task, a condition called anemia occurs.

Lacking the Life Fluid

Anemia is defined as the deficiency of hemoglobin or red blood blood cells, either quantitiatve or qualitative. Most doctors describe someone suffering from anemia as having low blood count. Anemia is actually not classified as a disease in itself, but rather a sign of a disease in process. It can also be considered a symptom. Anemia can be classified as chronic or acute and knowing which classification of anemia a person has is important in determining the exact cause of the problem. It can also help predict just how severe the symptoms are going to be.

Anemia is the most common of all blood disorders. In the United States alone, two to 10 percent of the population have anemia. In other countries, it is even higher. Anemia does not discriminate between old and young people, although statistically, older people are more likely to get medical complications stemming from anemia. Statistics have also shown that women are twice as likely to get anemia than men.

Causes and Symptoms of Anemia

If you have anemia, you may have an abnormally low count of red blood cells. Red blood cells are produced regularly in your bone marrow—it is a red, spongy material found in the cavities of your large bones. The cooperation of the kidneys as well as the nutrients in your body are also important in order to produce hemoglobin and red blood cells, as well as maintain a normal count of red blood cells in your body.

Your red blood cells live about 100 days, so your body needs to constantly replace them. If either the marrow or the kidneys are not functioning properly, then you will not be able to produce the necessary red blood cells to keep the body functioning properly. Improper nourishment also denies your body the necessary nutrients it needs to produce the cells.

Other factors include external bleeding or loss of blood through heavy menstruation, wounds, or ulcers. Long term medical conditions can also lead to anemia, as well as uncommon causes that include bleeding disorders, infections, and certain types of cancer. Natural causes include pregnancy, when water weight gain can dilute the red blood cells in your blood.

Since low red blood cells mean a decrease of oxygen to the organs of the body, you may experience many signs and symptoms of anemia. It can also worsen any underlying condition that you may have. The severity of the signs and symptoms you will experience will depend on how severe your anemia is. Common anemia signs and symptoms include:

  • black and tarry stools that are sticky and foul-smelling;
  • stools with visible blood;
  • pale or cold skin;
  • low blood pressure;
  • general weakness;
  • heart murmur;
  • fatigue;
  • weight loss;
  • dizziness and fainting, especially when standing.

Getting Rid of Anemia

Specific treatment depends on what type of anemia you have. Also, little can be done to treat anemia at home. It’s recommended that constant check-ups with the doctor are done. Here are some other things you can do to treat anemia:

  • Keep yourself hydrated. Since anemia is usually accompanied by dehydration, it is important that you keep yourself hydrated. Do not drink too much, though, or you will dilute your red blood cells and worsen your anemia.
  • Control or treat your other conditions. Since anemia itself is not a disease but rather a sign of another process, treating the other medical conditions causing it can help reduce or get rid of anemia symptoms. For example, if you have stomach ulcers, avoid alcoholic beverages and ibuprofens to help decrease the severity of ulcers, leading to a decrease in internal bleeding.
  • Take iron supplements. Iron-deficiency anemia can be treated with iron supplements, which usually need to be taken for several months.
  • Take vitamin supplements and a healthy diet. If the anemia is due to a lack of vitamins and minerals, taking supplements should help curb the problem. There are other nutrients that you can’t get from supplements, such as proteins and fats. In such cases, a balanced and healthy diet will fill in what you need.
  • Surgery and transfusion. In severe cases of anemia, a blood transfusion may be in order, although generally, doctors avoid doing it. A bone marrow transplant is also an option if the anemia is due to your marrows not producing enough hemoglobin.

There are many types of anemia. As such, you need to have yourself checked by your doctor for a specific set of treatments. In most cases, all you need is constant checking of your diet and a shift to a healthier lifestyle. Anemia, though common, should not be taken lightly.

Click here for more information on how to get rid of anemia.

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