Information for Patients
If you have anemia, your blood does not carry enough oxygen to the rest of your body. The most common cause of anemia is not having enough iron. Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that gives the red color to blood. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
Anemia has three main causes: blood loss, lack of red blood cell production, and high rates of red blood cell destruction.
Conditions that may lead to anemia include
- Heavy periods
- Colon polyps or colon cancer
- Inherited disorders
- A diet that does not have enough iron, folic acid or vitamin B12
- Blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia and thalassemia, or cancer
- Aplastic anemia, a condition that can be inherited or acquired
- G6PD deficiency, a metabolic disorder
Anemia can make you feel tired, cold, dizzy, and irritable. You may be short of breath or have a headache.
Your doctor will diagnose anemia with a physical exam and blood tests. Treatment depends on the kind of anemia you have.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is a genetic disorder that is most common in males. About 1 in 10 African American males in the United States has it. G6PD deficiency mainly affects red blood cells, which carry oxygen from the lungs to tissues throughout the body. The most common medical problem it can cause is hemolytic anemia. That happens when red blood cells are destroyed faster than the body can replace them.
If you have G6PD deficiency, you may not have symptoms. Symptoms happen if your red blood cells are exposed to certain chemicals in food or medicine, certain bacterial or viral infections, or stress. They may include
- Dark urine
- Shortness of breath
- Enlarged spleen
- Rapid heart rate
A blood test can tell if you have it. Treatments include medicines to treat infection, avoiding substances that cause the problem with red blood cells, and sometimes transfusions.
NIH: National Library of Medicine
Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency is a genetic disorder that occurs almost exclusively in males. This condition mainly affects red blood cells, which carry oxygen from the lungs to tissues throughout the body. In affected individuals, a defect in an enzyme called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase causes red blood cells to break down prematurely. This destruction of red blood cells is called hemolysis.The most common medical problem associated with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency is hemolytic anemia, which occurs when red blood cells are destroyed faster than the body can replace them. This type of anemia leads to paleness, yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice), dark urine, fatigue, shortness of breath, and a rapid heart rate. In people with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, hemolytic anemia is most often triggered by bacterial or viral infections or by certain drugs (such as some antibiotics and medications used to treat malaria). Hemolytic anemia can also occur after eating fava beans or inhaling pollen from fava plants (a reaction called favism).Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency is also a significant cause of mild to severe jaundice in newborns. Many people with this disorder, however, never experience any signs or symptoms and are unaware that they have the condition.