Information for Patients
Also called: Iron poor blood
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
- Anemia (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Anemia - B12 deficiency (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Anemia caused by low iron -- infants and toddlers (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Anemia of chronic disease (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Anemia of Inflammation and Chronic Disease - NIH
- Febrile/cold agglutinins (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Ferritin blood test (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Hemolytic anemia (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Iron deficiency anemia (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Pernicious anemia (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Vitamin B12 level (Medical Encyclopedia)
Hereditary spherocytosis Hereditary spherocytosis is a condition that affects red blood cells. People with this condition typically experience a shortage of red blood cells (anemia), yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice), and an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly). Most newborns with hereditary spherocytosis have severe anemia, although it improves after the first year of life. Splenomegaly can occur anytime from early childhood to adulthood. About half of affected individuals develop hard deposits in the gallbladder called gallstones, which typically occur from late childhood to mid-adulthood.There are four forms of hereditary spherocytosis, which are distinguished by the severity of signs and symptoms. They are known as the mild form, the moderate form, the moderate/severe form, and the severe form. It is estimated that 20 to 30 percent of people with hereditary spherocytosis have the mild form, 60 to 70 percent have the moderate form, 10 percent have the moderate/severe form, and 3 to 5 percent have the severe form.People with the mild form may have very mild anemia or sometimes have no symptoms. People with the moderate form typically have anemia, jaundice, and splenomegaly. Many also develop gallstones. The signs and symptoms of moderate hereditary spherocytosis usually appear in childhood. Individuals with the moderate/severe form have all the features of the moderate form but also have severe anemia. Those with the severe form have life-threatening anemia that requires frequent blood transfusions to replenish their red blood cell supply. They also have severe splenomegaly, jaundice, and a high risk for developing gallstones. Some individuals with the severe form have short stature, delayed sexual development, and skeletal abnormalities.