Anemia is a common blood disorder in which the blood has lower than normal level of red blood cells (RBCs). This condition may also develop if the RBCs do not contain enough hemoglobin; an iron-rich protein which imparts red color to the blood. The following article provides information about the various causes of this condition.
Anemia is a condition in which the red blood cell (RBC) count or hemoglobin is less in the body. It is caused due to increase in loss or destruction of hemoglobin or decrease in the production of RBCs. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein required by the body for the transportation of oxygen to various parts of the body. As there is shortage of hemoglobin in the blood it fails to supply sufficient amount of oxygen to various parts of the body.
To regularly produce RBCs and hemoglobin, one needs a healthy bone marrow, and nutrients such as iron and certain vitamins. Blood loss is also considered as one of the major causes of this condition. Given below are some of the other causes of anemia.
Pregnancy and childbirth : A pregnant lady of lactating mother may experience iron-deficiency as a mother is expected to take care of a growing baby’s iron requirements. This condition may develop in women who do not include enough iron-rich food in their diet.
Heavy menstrual periods : The loss of blood every month result in this condition in some women. If the flow is heavy then it may lead to excess blood loss, and if this loss is not replenished by intake of iron-rich food then it may lead to weakness.
Diet low in iron : A diet low in iron-rich food, vitamin B12, or folic acid may lead to this condition. Folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to anemia, which is also known as megaloblastic anemia. The main cause of vitamin B12 deficiency (also referred as pernicious anemia) is insufficient absorption of vitamin B12 from the food. This vitamin is necessary for the synthesis of RBCs, maintenance of the nervous system, and growth and development of children. This deficiency causes overgrowth of bacteria in part of the small intestine, malabsorption disorders, inflammatory bowel diseases, and fish tapeworm infections. Lack of folic acid may occur due to a poor diet and consumption of excessive alcohol. This vitamin can be found in fresh fruits, raw green vegetables, beans, and whole grain cereals. It is necessary for growth and cellular repair, since it is a critical component of DNA and RNA. Also it is essential for the formation and maturation of RBCs. Folic acid deficiency is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies, which mostly affects women over age 30. This condition is also considered as a cause of neural tube defects in the developing fetus. Recent study show that if a pregnant lady takes supplements of this vitamin, then it can prevent up to half of these birth defects.
Internal bleeding : Certain medical conditions like ulcer or tumor may lead to anemic condition. Bleeding from the guts may also cause this condition. The patient may slowly pass blood with stools (feces) without being aware of it. Internal bleeding may also happen due to trauma, surgery, cancer, bowel cancer, or frequent blood donations.
Malabsorption : This occurs when the body is not able to use the nutrients in the diet properly. This leads to conditions such as coeliac disease.
Blood diseases : Conditions such as leukemia, and infections such as malaria and septicaemia are caused due to the destruction of RBCs (haemolysis) in the body
Drugs and medications : There are certain drugs which may cause the body’s immune system to attack its own RBCs. This causes premature destruction of the RBCs. These drugs include certain antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, or anti-coagulant medications.
Anemia is a serious condition, therefore, some simple measures like incorporating enough vitamins like vitamin B12, vitamin C, and folic acid supplements and iron-rich foods in diet, avoiding smoking, and having good sleep at night are required to prevent this disease.