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
Pyruvate kinase deficiency Pyruvate kinase deficiency is an inherited disorder that affects red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body's tissues. People with this disorder have a condition known as chronic hemolytic anemia, in which red blood cells are broken down (undergo hemolysis) prematurely, resulting in a shortage of red blood cells (anemia). Specifically, pyruvate kinase deficiency is a common cause of a type of inherited hemolytic anemia called hereditary nonspherocytic hemolytic anemia. In hereditary nonspherocytic hemolytic anemia, the red blood cells do not assume a spherical shape as they do in some other forms of hemolytic anemia.Chronic hemolytic anemia can lead to unusually pale skin (pallor), yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice), extreme tiredness (fatigue), shortness of breath (dyspnea), and a rapid heart rate (tachycardia). An enlarged spleen (splenomegaly), an excess of iron in the blood, and small pebble-like deposits in the gallbladder or bile ducts (gallstones) are also common in this disorder.In people with pyruvate kinase deficiency, hemolytic anemia and associated complications may range from mild to severe. Some affected individuals have few or no symptoms. Severe cases can be life-threatening in infancy, and such affected individuals may require regular blood transfusions to survive. The symptoms of this disorder may get worse during an infection or pregnancy.
Triosephosphate isomerase deficiency Triosephosphate isomerase deficiency is a disorder characterized by a shortage of red blood cells (anemia), movement problems, increased susceptibility to infection, and muscle weakness that can affect breathing and heart function.The anemia in this condition begins in infancy. Since the anemia results from the premature breakdown of red blood cells (hemolysis), it is known as hemolytic anemia. A shortage of red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body leads to extreme tiredness (fatigue), pale skin (pallor), and shortness of breath. When the red cells are broken down, iron and a molecule called bilirubin are released; individuals with triosephosphate isomerase deficiency have an excess of these substances circulating in the blood. Excess bilirubin in the blood causes jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.Movement problems typically become apparent by age 2 in people with triosephosphate isomerase deficiency. The movement problems are caused by impairment of motor neurons, which are specialized nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control muscle movement. This impairment leads to muscle weakness and wasting (atrophy) and causes the movement problems typical of triosephosphate isomerase deficiency, including involuntary muscle tensing (dystonia), tremors, and weak muscle tone (hypotonia). Affected individuals may also develop seizures.Weakness of other muscles, such as the heart (a condition known as cardiomyopathy) and the muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest cavity (the diaphragm) can also occur in triosephosphate isomerase deficiency. Diaphragm weakness can cause breathing problems and ultimately leads to respiratory failure.Individuals with triosephosphate isomerase deficiency are at increased risk of developing infections because they have poorly functioning white blood cells. These immune system cells normally recognize and attack foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria, to prevent infection. The most common infections in people with triosephosphate isomerase deficiency are bacterial infections of the respiratory tract.People with triosephosphate isomerase deficiency often do not survive past childhood due to respiratory failure. In a few rare cases, affected individuals without severe nerve damage or muscle weakness have lived into adulthood.