Around 3.5 million people in the United States are affected by anemia, a common red blood cell disorder, and a large part of the affected population comprises children.
Anemia is a common blood disorder caused due to considerable decrease in the quantity of red blood cells or reduction of hemoglobin in the blood. It is usually considered a symptom of an underlying disease, and not a disease in itself. It can be attributed to hemorrhage (excessive blood loss), hemolysis (excessive blood cell destruction), or hematopoiesis (deficient red blood cell production).
In children, anemia can be caused due to various reasons; the prominent ones being …
- Infections, like ear infection or sinus infection, which deplete the production of red blood cells for a considerable period.
- Any chronic disease that hampers the development of red blood cells.
- Iron deficiency, which doesn’t just result in low blood count, but also causes the child to feel tired, irritable, weak, and have a pale skin.
- Side effects of certain medication administered to curb some disease.
- And lastly, lack of proper nutrition in small children.
It is very important to determine the cause of anemia before initiating the treatment.
Most of the signs and symptoms of anemia surface due to hypoxia, i.e., the decrease in oxygen levels in the blood cells. The red blood cells are meant to carry oxygen, so a decrease in their number often leads to hypoxia. Though the symptoms will differ from case to case, the most common symptoms are likely to be the same. These include …
- Skin turning pale or colorless
- Tachycardia, i.e., increased heart rate
- Dyspnea, i.e., difficulty in breathing
- Excessive fatigue, lack of energy, and irritability
- Headache and dizziness when standing for prolonged duration
- Sore or swollen tongue
- Jaundice, yellowing of skin, and eyes
- Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly) and spleen (splenomegaly).
- Slow developmental growth and tissue healing
Most of these symptoms are not observed in the case of mild anemia, as the human body is capable of compensating for minor changes in hemoglobin levels.
Symptoms of this condition often resemble the symptoms of other blood disorders or medical problems. If any of the above symptoms is noticed, you should promptly take your child to the doctor. The doctor will carry out a physical examination of the child and take his complete medical history into consideration for diagnosing the condition. If the child is getting tired easily, has fast heartbeat, and shows discoloration of skin and lips, the doctor will recommend some blood tests to measure the hemoglobin concentration and red blood cell count.
If the child is suffering from anemia, the doctor will prescribe medication after taking into account the child’s age, medical history, and overall health conditions. The extent to which the disorder has developed, its type and cause of the disorder needs to be determined before initiating the treatment process. The doctor will also consider the child’s tolerance levels to different medication or therapies. Although difficult, it’s not impossible to treat anemia. The treatment primarily involves around changing the child’s diet and including vitamin and mineral supplements in it.
If the disorder is caused due to particular medication, it should be promptly discontinued. If it is hemolytic anemia, then a small surgery will be required to remove the spleen. Blood transfusion will be required if there is significant loss of blood. If it is caused due to infection, antibiotics should be administered. If it is a case of aplastic anemia, then bone marrow transplant will have to be performed.
If anemia is caused due to genetic defects affecting the production of red blood cells or hemoglobin, it is very difficult to prevent it. But iron deficiency anemia, which is the most common form of anemia in children, can be prevented. Make sure that your child is getting enough iron during infancy and the initial years. It is very important to take proper care of your children in their initial years to make sure that they have a healthy future.