Anaemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or their oxygen-carrying capacity is insufficient to meet physiologic needs, which vary by age, sex, altitude, smoking, and pregnancy status.Iron deficiency is thought to be the most common cause of anaemia globally.
although other conditions, such as folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin A deficiencies, chronic inflammation, parasitic infections, and inherited disorders can all cause anaemia. In its severe form, it is associated with fatigue, weakness, dizziness and drowsiness. Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable.
See your doctor if you suspect you have anemia because anemia can be a sign of serious illnesses.
Anemia symptoms vary depending on the cause of your anemia but may include:
A fast or irregular heartbeat
Shortness of breath
Cold hands and feet
Initially, anemia can be so mild it goes unnoticed. But symptoms increase as anemia worsens.
When to see a doctor?
Make an appointment with your doctor if you're feeling fatigued for unexplained reasons.
Fatigue has many causes besides anemia, so don't assume that if you're tired you must be anemic.
Low hemoglobin may be a temporary problem remedied by eating more iron-rich foods or taking a multivitamin containing iron. It may also be a warning sign of bleeding in your body that may be causing you to be deficient in iron.
If you're told that you can't donate blood because of low hemoglobin, make an appointment with your doctor.
CAUSES & RISK FACTORS FOR ANAEMIA:
Iron-deficiency: Lack of iron is the most common cause of Anemia. This is called iron-deficiency Anemia.
Pregnancy or childhood growth spurts are times when you need more iron than usual. The amount of iron that you eat during these times may not be enough. Poor absorption of iron may occur with some gut diseases.
Heavy menstrual periods. The amount of iron that you eat may not be enough to replace the amount that you lose with the bleeding each month.
Bleeding from the gut (intestines). Some conditions of the gut can bleed enough to cause Anemia. You may not be aware of losing blood this way. The bleeding may be slow or intermittent, and you can pass blood out with your stools (faeces) without noticing.
Lack of certain vitamins such as folic acid and vitamin B12.
Red blood cell problems such as thalassemia, sickle cell anemia and other causes of hemolytic anemia. In these conditions the red cells are fragile and break easily in the bloodstream.
Bone marrow problems and leukaemia are uncommon, but can cause anaemia.
Other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic kidney disease can also cause anaemia.
A diet lacking in certain vitamins. Choosing a diet that is consistently low in iron, vitamin B-12 and folate increases your risk of anemia.
Chronic conditions. For example, if you have cancer, kidney or liver failure, or another chronic condition, you may be at risk of anemia of chronic disease.
Family history. If your family has a history of an inherited anemia, such as sickle cell anemia, you also may be at increased risk of the condition.
Other factors. A history of certain infections, blood diseases and autoimmune disorders, alcoholism, exposure to toxic chemicals, and the use of some medications can affect red blood cell production and lead to anemia.
Physical examination. During a physical exam, your doctor may listen to your heart and your breathing. Your doctor may also place his or her hands on your abdomen to feel the size of your liver and spleen.
Complete blood count (CBC). A CBC is used to count the number of blood cells in a sample of your blood. For anemia, your doctor will be interested in the levels of the red blood cells contained in the blood (hematocrit) and the hemoglobin in your blood.Normal adult hematocrit values vary from one medical practice to another but are generally between 40 and 52 percent for men and 35 and 47 percent for women. Normal adult hemoglobin values are generally 14 to 18 grams per deciliter for men and 12 to 16 grams per deciliter for women.
A test to determine the size and shape of your red blood cells. Some of your red blood cells may also be examined for unusual size, shape and color. Doing so can help pinpoint a diagnosis.
If you receive a diagnosis of anemia, your doctor may order additional tests to determine the underlying cause. Occasionally, it may be necessary to study a sample of your bone marrow to diagnose anemia.
Rectal examination: A rectal examination is usually only needed if you are bleeding from your bottom. This is a common procedure that can help your GP find out if there is something in your gastrointestinal tract that is causing bleeding.
Tests to diagnose gastrointestinal bleeding:
Various tests can be carried out to check for gastrointestinal bleeding if a doctor suspects that anaemia is caused by internal bleeding. These include:
Faecal occult blood test: this test checks for indicators of blood in the faeces. It can also detect tiny amounts of blood caused by bleeding in the intestines. It is typically the primary test to be carried out and if blood is discovered in the stool additional tests will be ordered; as follows:
Colonoscopy: this test requires the passage of a thin, supple tube up the rectum and into the colon. The tube is fitted with a light source and camera to enable doctors to see detailed images of the inside of the organs.
Upper GI endoscopy: this test involves using a thin, supple tube to see inside the upper part of the intestines and the stomach.
Pelvic examination Women may have a pelvic examination if their GP suspect's heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) may be the cause of their anaemia.
Pelvic ultrasound: an ultrasound (high frequency sound waves) will be used to inspect the pelvis and uterus. It can detect the causes of vaginal bleeding including fibroids.
If you have a family history of an inherited anemia, such as sickle cell anemia or thalassemia, talk to your doctor and possibly a genetic counselor about your risk and what risks you may pass on to your children.
WHO's (World Health Organization) Hemoglobin thresholds used to define
Anemia (1 g/dL = 0.6206 mmol/L)
Age or gender group
Hb threshold (g/dl)
Hb threshold (mmol/l)
Children (0.5-5.0 yrs)
Children (5-12 yrs)
Teens (12-15 yrs)
Women, non-pregnant (>15yrs)
Anemia treatment depends on the cause.
IRON DEFICIENCY ANAEMIA. This form of anemia is treated with changes in your diet and iron supplements.
What treatment is there for iron deficiency anaemia?
Aims of treatment
The aims of treatment are to increase iron levels, reinstate regular proportions of red blood cells and haemoglobin and to treat the source of iron deficiency anaemia.
Types of treatment
The type of treatment recommended by doctors will depend on the individual case. Factors including the harshness of the condition and initial cause will impact the treatment pathway. In most cases treatment is designed to stop bleeding and re-establish regular levels of iron and red blood cells by altering diet and adding supplements. In severe cases more intensive treatment may be required.
Treatment to stop bleeding
This will depend on the cause of bleeding and its location. Bleeding must be stemmed in order to treat anaemia.If the underlying cause of iron deficiency is loss of blood other than from menstruation the source of the bleeding must be located and stopped. This may involve surgery.
VITAMIN DEFICIENCY ANAEMIA. Folic acid and vitamin C deficiency anemias are treated with dietary supplements and increasing these nutrients in your diet. If your digestive system has trouble absorbing vitamin B-12 from the food you eat, you may receive vitamin B-12 injections.
ANAEMIA OF CHRONIC DISEASE. There's no specific treatment for this type of anemia. Doctors focus on treating the underlying disease. If symptoms become severe, a blood transfusion or injections of synthetic erythropoietin, a hormone normally produced by your kidneys, may help stimulate red blood cell production and ease fatigue.
APLASTIC ANAEMIA. Treatment for this anemia may include blood transfusions to boost levels of red blood cells. You may need a bone marrow transplant if your bone marrow is diseased and can't make healthy blood cells.
ANAEMIA ASSOCIATED WITH BONE MARROW DISEASE. Treatment of these various diseases can include simple medication, chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation.
HEMOLYTIC ANAEMIA. Managing hemolytic anemias includes avoiding suspect medications, treating related infections and taking drugs that suppress your immune system, which may be attacking your red blood cells.
Depending on the severity of your anemia, a blood transfusion or plasmapheresis may be necessary. Plasmapheresis is a type of blood-filtering procedure. In certain cases, removal of the spleen can be helpful.
SICKLE CELL ANAEMIA. Treatment for this anemia may include the administration of oxygen, pain-relieving drugs, and oral and intravenous fluids to reduce pain and prevent complications. Doctors also may recommend blood transfusions, folic acid supplements and antibiotics.
A bone marrow transplant may be an effective treatment in some circumstances. A cancer drug called hydroxyurea (Droxia, Hydrea) also is used to treat sickle cell anemia.
THALASSEMIA. This anemia may be treated with blood transfusions, folic acid supplements, removal of the spleen (splenectomy), a bone marrow transplant or a another drug.
As iron deficiency anaemia can leave you tired and lethargic (lacking in energy), you may be less productive and active at work. Your ability to stay awake and focus could decrease, and you may not feel able to exercise regularly.
Increased risk of infections
Iron deficiency anaemia can affect your immune system (the body's natural defense system), making you more likely to become ill.
Heart and lung problems
Adults with severe anaemia may be at risk of developing complications that affect their heart or lungs.
For example, you may develop tachycardia (an abnormally fast heartbeat) or heart failure (where your heart is not pumping blood around your body very efficiently).
Pregnant women with severe anaemia have an increased risk of developing complications, particularly during and after birth. They may also develop postnatal depression (which some parents experience after having a baby).
Babies born to mothers who have untreated anaemia are more likely to:
Be born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
Have a low birth weight
Have problems with iron levels themselves
Do less well in mental ability tests
Restless legs syndrome
Some cases of restless legs syndrome (RLS) are thought to be caused by iron deficiency anaemia. Doctors may refer to this as "secondary RLS".
RLS is a common condition affecting the nervous system, which causes an overwhelming, irresistible urge to move the legs. It also causes an unpleasant feeling in the feet, calves and thighs.
RLS caused by iron-deficiency anaemia can usually be treated with iron supplements.
The prevention of anaemia in older people
Older people may have a heightened danger of incurring iron deficiency anaemia as a result of poor diet or underlying health conditions. Anaemia can cause tiredness, a lack of motivation and energy and it can also make indications of other health conditions worse. The prevention of anaemia can be promoted by eating foods rich in iron and taking iron supplements. Doctors can offer advice about diet and prescribe iron tablets.
Quit! Kick the butt today! Smoking increases heart disease, anaemia, stroke and cancer.
Eat foods that are healthy and change your habits according to your age and body needs.
Remember that emotional well-being is a corner stone of good health. Learn to deal with and express your emotions in ways which is beneficial to you and your environment. Seek help if you feel overwhelmed.
Incorporate a daily routine to relax and rejuvenate try to listen to soothing music, chant, read a book or meditate.
Rest and sleep
If you are not sleeping well, you will have less energy and fewer resources for coping with stress. Developing good sleep habits is very important.
Breathing techniques, Yoga can help, check out (it is in Hindi language) -
Adjust your work schedule accordingly.
Seek people with similar conditions to help you remain as active and independent as possible and provide emotional support.
Family and friends
Try to promote healthy living to your partner, children and friends. Doing it together will have greater chances of success.
Anaemia recovery can take many weeks and is best treated by a doctor or general practitioner, following dietary steps should help your recovery time.
Many types of anemia can't be prevented. However, you can help avoid iron deficiency anemia and vitamin deficiency anaemias by choosing a diet that includes a variety of vitamins and nutrients, including:
Iron. Iron-rich foods include beef and other meats, beans, lentils, iron-fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, and dried fruit.
Folate. This nutrient, and its synthetic form folic acid, can be found in citrus fruits and juices, bananas, dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, and fortified breads, cereals and pasta.
Vitamin B-12. This vitamin is found naturally in meat and dairy products. It's also added to some cereals and soy products, such as soy milk.
Vitamin C. Foods containing vitamin C such as citrus fruits, melons and berries help increase iron absorption.
Consider vitamin supplements. Some vitamins and minerals will not be absorbed correctly without their partners - for example, iron is absorbed more efficiently alongside vitamin C, and iron absorption is slowed by calcium consumption. Vegetarians need to take vitamin B12, which is needed for iron absorption. A Vegetarian diet does not provide an adequate amount of B12.
Eat red meat. Red meat has higher iron content than white meat or fish. Anemia has nothing to do with protein.
Drink plenty of water. The body functions more efficiently when it is well-hydrated.
Eat plenty of dark, leafy greens and legumes. They contain higher levels of iron.
Eat high energy foods such as pulses and seeds. Sprouted seeds and pulses are even better for you. Stay away from fast-release energy sources such as sugar and caffeine, which will energize you for a little while and then leave you feeling more tired than you were.
Try and find the reasons behind your anemia. If it is because you have extraordinarily heavy periods, consider birth control to reduce your menstrual bleeding. If it's because of your diet, consider supplements or dietary changes.
Avoid food and drink that blocks iron absorption. Tea and coffee contain polyphenols that block absorption. Other iron-blocking foods include eggs, calcium (milk), whole grain bread product and excess fiber.
Eat oranges or drink orange juice alongside iron tablets (ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate, etc.). It contains vitamin C, which aids the absorption of iron.
Eat beets. Beets do not prevent anemia, but they do increase oxygen uptake in red blood cells by 400%.Vitamin B-12: You can eat foods rich in Vitamin B-12 such as red meat, shellfish, poultry, dairy products and eggs. This vitamin is only present in animal-based foods. Vegetarians and vegans must often take vitamin B-12 supplements to prevent or relieve symptoms of this type of anaemia.
Iron-containing vegetables include spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beet greens, peas, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.
Dried fruits not only provide a convenient snack, but they also deliver many nutrients, including the mineral iron. Prunes, which are dried plums, provide 1.9mg of iron per half cup serving. Raisins, which are dried grapes, deliver 2.55mg of iron per half cup serving. Dried figs and dried apricots also contain iron.
Fruits. Eating fruit high in Vitamin C increases the absorption of non-heme iron from sources such as beans and vegetables. Those with anaemia therefore benefit from increasing their Vitamin C consumption by eating fruit such as oranges, cantaloupe, strawberries and grapefruit. Drinking citrus fruit juices with real juice also boosts iron absorption.
Ash Gourd (Benincasa hipsida): Ash gourd can prevent the risk of anaemia by checking the amount of blood lost from the lungs, nose and if there are piles. Ash gourd is also effective in controlling haematuria, which is a condition in which there are blood cells in the urine.
Celery (Apium graveolens): Celery has a high quantity of iron and magnesium content.
Onion (Allium cepa): Onion has rich iron content. The advantage of the iron composition of onion is that it can be easily assimilated in the blood. Hence onion is the most effective remedy for anaemia.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum): Wormwood is another herb that is rich in iron. Hence it is regularly used in the treatment of anaemia.
Bell peppers: While bell peppers are low in the mineral iron, eating them can still help to reduce the symptoms of anaemia. Foods with Vitamin C, like bell peppers, increase the body's ability to absorb iron in foods and in supplements.
Raisins: Even vegetarians can get plenty of iron in the diet by eating fruit and vegetables.
Spinach: Spinach is another plant food which contains iron. Spinach is one of the vegetables which has the highest iron content.
Orange juice: Oranges are naturally rich in Vitamin C, which helps to increase the absorption of iron.
Beets: Beets are very helpful in curing anaemia. Beet juice contains Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Sulphur, Iodine, Iron, Copper, carbohydrates, protein, fat, Vitamins B1 B2, B6, niacin, and Vitamin P. With their high iron content, beets help in the formation of red blood cells. The juice of red beet strengthens the body's powers of resistance and has proved to be an excellent remedy for anaemia, especially for children and teenagers, where other blood-forming remedies have failed.
Soya bean: Soya bean is rich in iron and also has a high protein value. As most anaemia patients usually also suffer from a weak digestion, it should be given to them in a very light form, preferably in the form of milk, which can be easily digested.
Almonds: Almonds contain copper to the extent of 1.15 mg per 100 gm. The copper along with iron and vitamins acts as a catalyst in the synthesis of haemoglobin. Almonds are, therefore, a useful remedy for anaemia. Seven almonds should be soaked in water for about two hours and ground into a paste after removing the thin red skin. This paste may be eaten once daily in the morning for three months.
For more details you can watch :
Sample Diet Plan
Below is an IDEAL sample Diet Plan. Make sure to check the correct portion sizes for each food item. Talk to your doctor or dietician about any restrictions on fluid or water intake. Do not add extra SALT or SUGAR while cooking or as seasoning.
1 Cup lukewarm water with 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 tsp. honey
1 Cup Dahlia, porridge made with Skim Milk OR 1 Moong Dal Dosa OR 1 Ragi Dosa 1 medium Apple ?OR medium Orange OR 1/2 Cup pomegranate seeds
Early Morning Snack
1 Cup boiled Sweet potatoes, sprinkled with lemon juice OR 1 Cup Brown rice Poha with low fat yoghurt 1 Cup Coconut water (discard the "malai")
2 dried apricots and 1 whole walnut OR 2 dried figs and 2 almonds (unsalted)
1 large bowl of Salad (carrots, cucumbers, beets, tomatoes and onions) (Dressing is important , use - Olive oil, lemon juice and pepper)1 Whole wheat/Multigrain phulka OR Jowari Roti1 Cup Palak Dal OR Rajma 1 Cup of Buttermilk
Mid Afternoon Snack
1/2 Cup Mixed sprouts ORChole salad 1 Cup Green Tea (no milk added)
Early Dinner Snack
2 Ragi Biscuits OR 2 Unsweetened Oatmeal Biscuits
1/2 Cup Brown rice with 1 Cup Mixed vegetable sambar OR 1 Cup Brown rice Khichadi with 1 small bowl Raita1 Cup cabbage curry OR steamed Cauliflower curry OR Karela curry 1 Cup Buttermilk