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Types of Anemia

Types of Anemia

Anemia is a condition where there is a dearth of oxygen carrying capacity in the body. Read on to know all about its different types.
Dr. Sumaiya Khan
Last Updated: Dec 21, 2017
Anemia in Greek means lack of blood. Anemia is a condition where there is deficiency of either hemoglobin or of red blood cells. Thus, this leads to a condition where there is insufficient amount of oxygen circulating in the body. Anemia is said to be one of the most common condition affecting blood. There are many types of anemia, which occur due to many different reasons, and thus, due to these differing etiologies, there have to be different treatment plans chalked out for each. Thus, it is important to first understand and diagnose the condition, so that you can single out one from all the different types.
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is one of the malnutrition diseases and hence is very common in pregnant women. This condition occurs due to deficiency of iron in the body, which is spurred on by a diet that is poor in iron and other nutrients. However, in some cases, this could also occur due to colon cancer, as there is a loss of blood in the stools. Furthermore, in adults, around 60% of patients suffering from it may even have this condition due to gastrointestinal disorders, which leads to chronic blood loss. This leads to typical signs and symptoms, like pallor, weakness, shortness of breath, palpitations, etc. The treatment will consist of advising the patient to eat iron enriched foods and take in iron supplements.
Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle cell anemia is a disease where the red blood cells assume an abnormal shape, which is sickle like, as they become flattened and pointed at ends. Thus, this leads to insufficient oxygen carrying capacity of the cells. This sickling occurs due to a point mutation in the hemoglobin gene. Thus, when the red blood cells circulate in the bloodstream, due to their sickled structure, they are very fragile. This leads to excessive breakage of the cells that leads to a state of hemolysis, which is the actual cause of anemia. The symptoms seen in this condition are the same as those seen in the other types, like shortness of breath, anxiety, palpitations, etc. Unfortunately, due to this disease being genetic in its etiology, there is no cure for it. However, certain precautionary measures, like eating food rich in iron and folic acid, etc. can be implemented to prevent the severity of the symptoms. In severe cases, blood transfusion and bone marrow transplants can also be done.
Megaloblastic Anemia
This anemia has a very different type of etiology behind it. In cases of people suffering from atrophic gastritis, there is destruction of the gastric parietal cells. These cells are responsible for absorption of vitamin B12, and hence, this condition is brought on by the inability of the body to absorb and utilize vitamin B12. Furthermore, even the folic acid that is ingested is not absorbed properly. Thus, the only treatment in such cases is to take vitamin B12 and folic acid intravenously.
Aplastic Anemia
Aplastic anemia is a condition where the bone marrow does not produce enough of red blood cells, due to which they are not replaced and replenished on a timely enough basis. Thus, the red blood cells having a lifespan of only 120 days, eventually die out, but as they aren't replaced, there is a deficiency of red blood cells in the body. In such cases, the only treatment option is bone marrow replacement.
There are some rare types as well, like anemia of prematurity, hereditary spherocytosis, myelophthisic anemia, etc. However, most of the symptoms seen in all types are common, and hence, even if the disease does not have any cure, one must make all possible efforts to at least mitigate the severity of the symptoms.