Anaemia Anaemia
  • What is Anaemia?
  • What are the causes of Anaemia?
  • What are the symptoms of Anaemia?
  • How is Anaemia treated?

What is Anaemia?

Anaemia is a condition in which there is not enough haemoglobin to carry oxygen in the blood. Haemoglobin is the red pigment in red blood cells. Anaemia occurs when the number of red blood cells in the blood is reduced due to decreased production or increased destruction of these cells.

The common types of anaemia are:

  • Anaemia linked with bone marrow disease like - leukaemia.
  • Anaemia of chronic disease can be caused by chronic inflammatory (swelling) diseases that affect red blood cell production, eg. cancer, kidney failure, and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Aplastic anaemia caused by the reduced ability of the bone marrow to produce red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells.
  • Haemolytic anaemia occurs when red blood cells are destroyed.
  • Iron deficiency anaemia caused by a lack of iron in the body (the most common type in South Asia and South-East Asia).
  • Sickle cell anaemia is an inherited condition characterised by red blood cells that has an abnormal crescent shape.
  • Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia.

What are the causes of Anaemia?

Anaemia occurs when the blood doesn’t have enough red blood cells. This can be caused by the inability of the body to produce enough red blood cells, or the increased destruction or loss of red blood cells, which can result from:

  • Damage to the bone marrow.
  • Destruction of red blood cells due to infectious diseases, hereditary disorders and autoimmune diseases.
  • Hereditary disorders such as - thalassaemia, sickle cell anaemia.
  • Increased function of the spleen (where the red blood cells are usually filtered) leading to increased destruction of red blood cells.
  • Lack of certain nutrients like iron and folate.
  • Menstrual disorders lead to increased blood loss.
  • Reduced stimulation caused by renal (kidney) disease or other endocrine (hormone) disorders.
  • Significant bleeding causing the body to lose red blood cells faster than it can replace.

What are the symptoms of Anaemia?

The symptoms of anaemia include:

  • Chest pain
  • Cognitive (thought) problems
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Tiredness and dizziness
  • Headache
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath

How is Anaemia treated?

The treatment of anaemia depends on the cause and the type of the condition. The aim of the treatment is to stop whatever is causing the anaemia and to potentially restore the function of red blood cells. This can be achieved by:

  • Blood transfusions boost red blood cells levels and ease symptoms.
  • Bone marrow transplant.
  • Immunosuppressant drugs to stop the abnormal destruction of red blood cells.
  • Using various nutritional supplements including iron, folate and vitamin B12.