- Anemia is a condition in which your blood has a lower than normal number of red blood cells. This condition also can occur if your red blood cells don't contain enough hemoglobin. Without enough red blood cells or hemoglobin, the blood doesn't carry enough oxygen to the body.
- The lack of oxygen causes people who have anemia to feel tired and weak. With severe or long-lasting anemia, the lack of oxygen in the blood can damage the heart, brain, and other organs in the body. Very severe anemia may even cause death.
- Anemia has three main causes: blood loss, lack of red blood cell production, or high rates of red blood cell destruction. These causes may be due to a number of diseases, conditions, or other factors.
- Anemia is a common condition. It occurs in all age groups and all racial and ethnic groups. Women and people who have chronic diseases are at increased risk for anemia.
- The most common symptom of anemia is fatigue (feeling tired or weak). Other signs and symptoms include shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, coldness in the hands and feet, pale skin, and chest pain. Mild to moderate anemia may cause mild symptoms or none at all.
- Your doctor will diagnose anemia based on your medical and family histories, a physical exam, and results from tests and procedures. Often, the first test use to diagnose anemia is a complete blood count (CBC). A CBC measures many different parts of your blood.
- Treatment for anemia depends on the type, cause, and severity of the condition. Treatments may include dietary changes or supplements, medicines, or procedures.
- You may be able to prevent repeat episodes of some types of anemia by making dietary changes, taking supplements, or treating an underlying condition.
- Often, you can treat and control anemia. If you have signs and symptoms of this condition, seek prompt diagnosis and treatment. With proper treatment, many types of anemia are mild and short term.
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