Anemia : Symptoms and prevention

A poor diet that lacks iron, folate, or vitamin B12 tends to be one of the most common causes of anemia cases. Certain gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease or Celiac disease can decrease
(Design: Jordan News)
Anemia is a condition in which there are not enough healthy red blood cells to deliver oxygen adequately all over the body. There are many diseases and conditions that can cause anemia; in general, women are twice as likely to get anemia as men. Anemia tends to be of greater concern in low- to middle-income nations and may be associated with serious health consequences. اضافة اعلان

In Jordan, the prevalence of anemia is 4.9 percent in men in 19.3 percent in non-pregnant women.

What is anemia

Red blood cells (RBCs) are disc-shaped cells that help deliver oxygen to the organs and tissues of the body. They are able to do this because of a protein called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is rich in iron, which has a strong affinity for oxygen. As RBCs leave the lungs with oxygen attached, they reach the target tissues and exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide (CO2). With the CO2 now bound to the RBCs, they return to the lungs where it can be exhaled, and the process starts again. Anemia, in essence, is the condition that causes RBCs to inadequately deliver oxygen to tissues.

Types of anemia

Of all the types of anemia, iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is the most common. In Jordan, IDA was responsible for 68 percent of anemic women and 38 percent of anemic men. Due to the fact that iron is an integral part of oxygen delivery, deficiency will cause symptoms of anemia. There are a variety of causes that can result in IDA, but the most common are inadequate diet and certain conditions that result in poor absorption of nutrients, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or previous bypass surgery. Fortunately, mild, and even moderate, forms of anemia can leave a person symptom free. Those with chronic anemia who never experience symptoms typically do not need to worry.

In addition to iron, vitamin B12 and B9 (also known as folate or folic acid) deficiencies can result in anemia. Folate and vitamin B12 are important nutrients needed in the production of RBCs in a process known as erythropoiesis. Poor dietary intake is the most common cause of vitamin B12 and folate deficiency, which may cause anemia, but it may also be the result of a genetic or autoimmune condition.

Pernicious anemia is a type of anemia that renders a person unable to produce gastric protein known as an intrinsic factor in the stomach. This intrinsic factor is important in the absorption of vitamin B12; those with this condition are unable to receive vitamin B12 from their diet.

Hemolytic anemia is a more serious form of anemia and is indicative of a serious underlying cause. Hemolytic anemia is when the RBCs are being destroyed faster than they can be replaced; many diseases and conditions can cause it, including Autoimmune diseases and inherited conditions such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia.

RBCs can also be physically damaged by artificial heart valves or may be destroyed as a result of side effects from medications such as acetaminophen and penicillin.

Finally, aplastic anemia is a form of anemia that results from the inability of the bone marrow to produce enough RBCs. The bone marrow is the main site of RBCs production; it is filled with stem cells that later develop into RBCs. The most common causes of aplastic anemia are autoimmune diseases, but it can also be caused by treatments used to fight cancer, such as radiation and chemotherapy.

Signs and symptoms of anemia

It may be hard to distinguish signs and symptoms of anemia in mild and moderate forms. If you regularly feel the majority of symptoms, it may be a good idea to consult your doctor to have your blood tested. In mild cases, anemia presents as fatigue, generalized weakness, lightheadedness (especially when standing up), shortness of breath, and cold hands and feet. In more extreme or longstanding cases, anemia can present as rapid heart rate, chest pains, fainting, and pale skin, gums, or nails.

In addition to the classic presentations of anemia, there are also symptoms specific to the type of anemia. In vitamin B12 deficiency, additional symptoms include numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, muscle weakness, depression, poor memory, as well as digestive complications such as nausea, vomiting, bloating, indigestion, and constipation.

In folate deficiency, soreness of tongue and mouth, as well as changes in the color of nails, hair, or skin are additional symptoms. Symptoms such as jaundice (yellow discoloration of skin and the whites of the eyes), enlarged spleen, chills, and back or upper abdomen pain are more specific to hemolytic anemia. In aplastic anemia, other components of blood such as white blood cells and platelets are also affected. Low white blood cells countsleave the body more susceptible to infection and low platelets can cause easy bruising or bleeding.

Risk factors

Since there are many types of anemia, there are also many factors that can increase the risk of developing it. A poor diet that lacks iron, folate, or vitamin B12 tends to be one of the most common causes of anemia cases. Certain gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease or Celiac disease can decrease the absorption of vital nutrients. There are also acute situations in which anemia can occur because of severe blood loss or menstruation. Similarly, due to the high demand on the body, pregnant women are more likely to develop anemia.
A poor diet that lacks iron, folate, or vitamin B12 tends to be one of the most common causes of anemia cases. Certain gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease or Celiac disease can decrease the absorption of vital nutrients.
Other chronic health conditions such as cancer, kidney disease (especially end-stage renal disease), and liver disease greatly increase the risk of developing anemia. Furthermore, exposure to toxic chemicals, heavy consumption of alcohol, and certain chronic medications may result in anemia.

Foods rich in healthy nutrients

1.  Iron. According to the National Institute of Health, the daily intake of iron for adults (ages 19-50) varies according to the gender. Men should consume roughly 8 mg of iron daily, whereas non-pregnant women should consume 18 mg of iron daily. Pregnant women should have a daily iron intake of 27 mg, and breastfeeding women should only consume 9 mg. Both men and women over the age of 50 only need 8 mg of iron per day. Foods rich in iron include red meat, liver, seafood, oatmeal, beans, lentils, and spinach. Those unable to receive the full amount of iron from foods may need to use iron supplements.

2. Folate. Folate is not stored in the body; excess amounts are eliminated through urine. As a result, it is important to ensure that you get plenty from your diet. The units described for folate are in terms of dietary folate equivalents (DFE), which simply account for the difference in absorption between folate (found naturally in foods) and folic acid (synthetic supplement). From the age of 14 up, 400 micrograms (mcg) of DFE are required daily. In pregnant and breastfeeding women, 600 mcg/DFE and 500 mcg/DFE per day are recommended, respectively. Foods containing folate include beef liver, lentils, spinach, asparagus, and eggs.

3. Vitamin B12. The recommended daily amount of vitamin B12 in adults is 2.4 mcg. In pregnant and breastfeeding women, 2.6 mcg and 2.8 mcg are recommended respectively. Sources of vitamin B12 include fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.

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