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  • Anemia

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    Anemia is a decrease in the total amount of red blood cells (RBCs) or hemoglobin in the blood, or a lowered ability of the blood to carry oxygen. When anemia comes on slowly, the symptoms are often vague and may include feeling tired, weakness, shortness of breath or a poor ability to exercise. Anemia that comes on quickly often has greater symptoms, which may include confusion, feeling like one is going to pass out, loss of consciousness, or increased thirst. Anemia must be significant before a person becomes noticeably pale. Additional symptoms may occur depending on the underlying cause. The three main types of anemia are due to blood loss, decreased red blood cell production, and increased red blood cell breakdown. Causes of blood loss include trauma and gastrointestinal bleeding, among others. Causes of decreased production include iron deficiency, a lack of vitamin B12, thalassemia, and a number of neoplasms of the bone marrow. Causes of increased breakdown include a number of genetic conditions such as sickle cell anemia, infections like malaria, and certain autoimmune diseases.

  • Hypochromic anemia

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    Hypochromic anemia, or Hypochromic anaemia, is a generic term for any type of anemia in which the red blood cells (erythrocytes) are paler than normal. (Hypo- refers to less, and chromic means color.) A normal red blood cell will have an area of pallor in the center of it; it is biconcave disk shaped. In hypochromic cells, this area of central pallor is increased. This decrease in redness is due to a disproportionate reduction of red cell hemoglobin (the pigment that imparts the red color) in proportion to the volume of the cell. Clinically the color can be evaluated by the Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin (MCH) or Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration (MCHC). The MCHC is considered the better parameter of the two as it adjusts for effect the size of the cell has on its color. Hypochromia is clinically defined as below the normal MCH reference range of 27-33 picograms/cell in adults or below the normal MCHC reference range of 33-36 g/dL in adults. Red blood cells will also be small (microcytic), leading to substantial overlap with the category of microcytic anemia. The most common causes of this kind of anemia are iron deficiency and thalassemia. Hypochromic anemia was historically known as chlorosis or green sickness for the distinct skin tinge sometimes present in patients, in addition to more general symptoms such as a lack of energy, shortness of breath, dyspepsia, headaches, a capricious or scanty appetite and amenorrhea.

  • Iron-deficiency anemia

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    Iron-deficiency anemia is anemia caused by a lack of iron. Anemia is defined as a decrease in the number of red blood cells or the amount of hemoglobin in the blood. When onset is slow, symptoms are often vague such as feeling tired, weak, short of breath, or having decreased ability to exercise. Anemia that comes on quickly often has more severe symptoms, including: confusion, feeling like one is going to pass out or increased thirst. Anemia is typically significant before a person becomes noticeably pale. Children with iron deficiency anemia may have problems with growth and development . There may be additional symptoms depending on the underlying cause. Iron-deficiency anemia is caused by blood loss, insufficient dietary intake, or poor absorption of iron from food. Sources of blood loss can include heavy periods, childbirth, uterine fibroids, stomach ulcers, colon cancer, and urinary tract bleeding. Poor absorption of iron from food may occur as a result of Crohn's disease or a gastric bypass. In the developing world, parasitic worms, malaria, and HIV/AIDS increase the risk of iron deficiency anemia. Diagnosis is confirmed by blood tests. Iron deficiency anemia can be prevented by eating a diet containing sufficient amounts of iron or by iron supplementation. Foods high in iron include meat, nuts, spinach, and foods made with iron-fortified flour. Treatment may include dietary changes and dealing with underlying causes, for example medical treatment for parasites or surgery for ulcers. Iron supplements and vitamin C may be recommended. Severe cases may be treated with blood transfusions or iron injections. Iron-deficiency anemia affected about 1.48 billion people in 2015. A lack of dietary iron is estimated to cause approximately half of all anemia cases globally. Women and young children are most commonly affected. In 2015 anemia due to iron deficiency resulted in about 54,000 deaths – down from 213,000 deaths in 1990.

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