Anemia or iron deficiency is a terrible disease, in which people become very pale and are in desperate need of more blood. It is particularly a pathology that affects red blood cells or erythrocytes. Anemia is, by definition, a decrease in the number of erythrocytes, which are the red component present in the blood. It also happens due to a decrease in their ability to transport oxygen.
This can happen mainly due to three reasons
- Less production of erythrocytes by the bone marrow.
- More destruction of these cells are too quickly before they can have their full lifecycle, which is 120 days.
- It also occurs due to significant bleeding, which is also a common cause.
Iron deficiency occurs in approximately 11% to 45% of children younger than five years old, in regions with less development. It is much more common because small children sometimes can't get all the nutrients that they need.
How anemia could be dangerous?
The quicker its onset, the more severe it is. Because it's not normal to lose a million erythrocytes in one day or in one hour due to severe bleeding. If you are losing blood in six months to a year then the body has a chance to adapt to this stop in the function of these important transporters of oxygen. That's why we can find patients who have had anemia for years, with extremely low levels of hemoglobin and erythrocytes. They don't have too many symptoms because they have a chance to compensate for it as it developed over a long time.
The second important thing to remember is that anemia on its own can be fatal, however, when associated with other diseases. It's common in any lung disease or heart disease such as a heart attack.
Mainly at hospitals, when a patient has been hospitalized for several days and getting IV solutions, this is decreases of his erythrocyte count. They lose red blood cells and that leads to their original disease becoming much more severe now.
Epidemiology of Anemia/ iron deficiency :
In underdeveloped regions like Africa have an increased percentage of children who are getting this disease. Other regions in Africa and Asia also have significant numbers, along with some Latin American countries.
Mexico, Latin America, Russia, and some Eastern European countries have medium numbers of anemia cases.
The most developed and richest countries have significantly fewer cases of anemia. The United States and Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and China have done a great effort to fight malnutrition in children.
How red blood cells are formed?
Erythrocytes come from progenitor cells in the bone marrow. They are release into the blood by the stimulus from the erythropoietin, which comes from the kidney and informs that it needs to make more red blood cells and more blood cells. So, the erythropoietin comes, then the bone marrow gets activated and gathering iron and vitamin B, and then it'll produce all these erythrocytes, resulting in 40% of our entire blood being composed of these red blood cells. 120 days is the average time for each erythrocyte. After that, they get destroy by the liver and by the spleen where it is then stored.
Hemoglobin level in people of different age groups:
Hemoglobin level depends upon age. For example in children between 6 to 59 months, a patient should have hemoglobin of 11.0. If there's anemia, it may be mild, moderate, or severe. For example, severe anemia is under 7.0, moderate is between 7.0 to 9.9 and mild is between 10.0 to 10.9. For children of age 5 to 11 who have no anemia, the level of hemoglobin is 11.5. Children between 12 and 14 years old should have 12.0 or more hemoglobin. Non-pregnant women, have 12.0 or higher hemoglobin levels .Pregnant women have 11.0 or higher levels of hemoglobin. Men have 13.0 or higher hemoglobin levels.
The most common cause of anemia/iron deficiency in women:
- In women, 16% to 29% can get anemia because they have a menstrual cycle that involves bleeding. If a Woman gets menstrual cycles that are not healthy with frequent or excessive loss of blood then this can lead to a more common case of anemia.
- Pregnant women are at even higher risk to develop anemia. It affects 22% to 38% of women.
- Hormonal imbalance which is typical in pregnancy can lead to anemia.
What can lead a person to develop anemia?
- Low red blood cell count due to nutritional causes.
- Dysfunction in the bone marrow does not produce red blood cells regardless of adequate amounts of iron, B12, and folic acid. If the progenitor cells are not present in the bone marrow, then the erythrocytes won't be produced. For example cancer of bone marrow (leukemia).
- Large amounts of radiation, such as the case for technicians who need to take x-rays and CT scans without safety protections, could have this problem.
- Also, the patients who are getting radiotherapy could develop this problem where the radiation burns and destroys the progenitor cells in the bone marrow.
- Some drugs or toxins, mainly heavy metals, and some forms of chemotherapy may cause this same issue in the bone marrow.
- Kidney failure is also the cause, If we don't have a kidney to produce erythropoietin, even if we have the progenitors in the bone marrow, then there's no one to send a signal asking for the production of new cells, so, they don't get produced.
- Excessive destruction of RBC. For example, an incompatibility between the mother and baby's Rh group causes the mom's antibodies to destroy the baby's blood. So, babies produce with severe anemia or autoimmunity.
- Lupus and other autoimmune diseases may lead to the destruction of red blood cells because in this condition antibodies produce against your own erythrocytes.
- One most common cause of that is a hemorrhage.
- A stomach ulcer that leads to vomiting blood, injury in the colon, or cancer in the colon causes the erythrocytes to leave the bloodstream through defecation and strong menstruation
- Frequent menstruation or losing a lot of blood is also the cause.
- Genetic causes, in which the DNA of erythrocytes is not properly formed and they get destroyed too quickly.
- It can be caused by infection. This includes some viruses such as hepatitis or cytomegalovirus. Which are toxic for the progenitor areas in the bone marrow, and also parasites and bacteria that directly destroy red blood cells, such as malaria and toxoplasmosis.
- Chronic infections and chronic inflammation processes lead to anemia
Risk factor of anemia/Iron deficiency:
- Age is a risk factor that small children have an increased risk because they don't have to take foods rich in iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12
- Women who are early in their menstrual cycles also have significant risks, because this is the period when the bleeding begins
- Older adults also have increased risk because this age is also when the incidence of diseases that cause chronic bleeding increases, from the ulcers we were mentioning to some types of cancer in the gastrointestinal tract
- The female sex, for these obvious reasons, also has increased risk
- Pregnancy, just like the menstrual cycle, increases the risk of loss of blood
- A poor diet also be the cause
- Any person with a chronic disease has an increased risk of developing anemia, so we need to monitor them and expect them to get anemia
- Any patient with chronic bleeding, and patients with lung and heart disease and chronic kidney disease; they not only at risk of anemia but if anemia does develop in them
Diagnosis of anemia/iron deficiency
- It is difficult to detect anemia in a patient. There are patients who will not be showing clear signs of anemia unless they have severe anemia
- The first thing is the patient has very pale skin. This is mostly a visible sign and indicator
- Another sign is jaundice turn skin yellow. And this is a different kind of anemia in which the destruction of erythrocytes occurs
- Shortness of breath could be a sign. Shortness of breath is cause because the body is unable to transport oxygen
- An irregular heartbeat also could be a sign. If the patient has tachycardia, their heart is trying to increase the amount of blood that goes to the lung for oxygen transportation
- There are few erythrocytes that are still functioning and their workload is increase. This will lead the patient to become fatigued, weakened, and lightheaded. The patient may feel very tired with little physical activity and get tachycardia
- Also diagnosis by a patient’s medical history
Treatment for Anemia/Iron deficiency through medications:
For almost all types of anemia ferrous sulfates supplements are used. In some cases, the patient is provided with iron, and in other cases, with vitamin B12 or folic acid. Supplements are needs to be taken one hour before or three hours after a meal. This is because iron can only be absorbed in an acidic medium in the stomach. If the stomach is not acidic, the iron which comes will not be absorbed in all, and so, it is useless.
Natural remedies to cure anemia/iron deficiency:
- Take iron-rich food into your diet
- Take red meat, it is red due to a large amount of hemoglobin and iron in it. They have heme iron that is much easier to absorb. This is only due to the iron-contribution standpoint. Too much consumption of red meat has other side effects on health.
- Consume shellfish like oysters. They are rich in iron.
- You can also take Liver and blood sausage because they are also rich in iron.
- Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts are also very high in iron.
- Spinach, swiss chard, watercress, and other leafy greens are rich in iron.
- Chickpeas, lentils, legumes, and whole grains, are also rich in iron.
- Citric acid is rich in vitamin C, and although they don't contain much iron vitamin C really supports the absorption of iron.
They are useful for patients who have anemia, especially mild or moderate .You can increase all this in our diets to get more iron and fight the anemia or prevent ever getting anemia. You will able to get new electrolytes easily from these foods.