Anemia of chronic disease can be described as a type of anemia which is caused as a result of some chronic illness. This article is a brief overview of the disease.
The blood in the body acts as a carrier of oxygen, carbon dioxide, essential nutrients, and hormones from one part of the body to another. In other words, transportation of these useful substances between various parts of the body takes place through the medium of blood. These activities are carried out by the components of blood, namely red blood cells, white blood cells, and blood plasma or the liquid medium.
Basically, iron deficiency anemia is caused when the count of red blood cells is low. Anemia of chronic disease (ACD) usually occurs when a person is suffering from a disease or infection for a prolonged period. Sometimes, it could be a symptom of a particular health condition or it may be due to iron deficiency or vitamin deficiency resulting from a health disorder.
The exact cause of this particular anemia is not yet known. However, diseases like syphilis, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, connective tissue disorder, trauma, etc. make a person more prone to ACD. In some cases, young children can develop this type of anemia after suffering from certain infections. These infections affect their body in various ways.
The process of production of red blood cells becomes slow and the lifespan of red blood cells produced decreases as well. Usually, our body recycles the iron required for making new red blood cells from the old ones. Due to a chronic infection or disease this process of recycling of iron halts. Therefore, the body does not get enough iron for making new blood cells.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
General symptoms of anemia are weakness, fatigue, headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, and paleness of skin. Most of the time, these symptoms of anemia get overlapped by the signs of the chronic ailment. Thus, the diagnosis of the anemia becomes all the more difficult. However, it can be diagnosed through blood tests. A low serum iron content in blood is the main indication that the patient is anemic.
When there is some inflammatory disease or tumor, plasma protein content of the blood increases as a result of which the sedimentation rate of blood becomes higher. This condition can also be detected by the means of a blood test. In some cases, a bone marrow biopsy is carried out to confirm the presence of ACD. This test helps to ascertain the iron level in the bone marrow. If the amount of stored iron in bone marrow is high, it suggests that the patient is suffering from anemia of chronic disease.
The treatment mainly involves curing the underlying causes. If a person is suffering from a liver disease, the anemia gets cured when the liver starts functioning normally after treatment. Cancer patients may suffer from anemia due to undernourishment. In such cases, intake of iron and vitamin supplements prescribed by the doctor helps in improving the anemic condition. If anemia turns serious due to large amount of blood loss or non- absorption of iron in the body, blood transfusion may be required. When a patient is suffering from endocrine failure, the anemia is treated with hormone replacement therapy.
Though it is not a very severe form, proper diagnosis and treatment of anemia is essential. Or else, the patient may become weaker and weaker and recovery from a particular chronic health condition will become even more difficult.