The most common causes and symptoms of anemia and how to treat it

Are you tired? You have shortness of breath or do you get dizzy? Does your chest hurt and your hands and feet are cold? You could suffer anemia and not know it. This disease, related to the iron in the bloodIt develops when it does not have enough red blood cells or the hemoglobin concentration in them is very low. This hemoglobin is the protein It contains iron and carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. It affects 1620 million people worldwide.

It is actually a very broad term and represents several hundred different conditions, some of them mild and others quite serious. As the doctor declares Nancy Berliner In 'Live Science' there are three reasons why you can suffer from this disease: either your body cannot produce enough red blood cells, or something is destroying those red blood cells faster than your body can produce new ones.


As we said at the beginning, there are several. Even so, the mildest forms of anemia They may not cause symptoms, but if they occur, these are:

  • Fatigue
  • Skin pale or yellowish
  • Short of breath
  • Hands and feet cold
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Thirst
  • Pulse Quick
  • Cramps
  • Complications cardiac

If it is related to a nutritional deficiency, the logical thing will be to make changes in the diet with iron or vitamin supplements

The risk of anemia It is higher in people who have a poor diet, intestinal disorders, chronic diseases or infections. Women (pregnant or menstruating with heavy periods) are also prone, and The risk increases with age, although it is not a typical condition of aging because you also have to keep an eye on young children and adolescents, especially during periods of accelerated growth. The important thing is to carry out a diet with iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 adequate.


As we have already noted, there is not one, these are the types more common:

  • Iron deficiency anemia. The most common, can be the result of a poor diet or a great loss of blood
  • Vitamin deficiency anemia. In addition to iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 are essential, and if they are not consumed enough (or there is an inability to absorb them), it can lead to this problem
  • Sickle cell anemia. It is an inherited disease that causes the blood cells to have a crescent shape (instead of being round), so they separate and can clog the blood vessels
  • Aplastic anemia. It is a rare disorder that happens when the spinal cord does not produce enough new cells
  • Thalassemia It is a hereditary blood disorder that produces hemoglobin levels below normal
  • Hemolytic anemia. A disorder that causes red blood cells to be destroyed faster than the bone marrow can replace them, are caused by infections or autoimmune disorders
  • Anemia of inflammation It occurs in people with chronic conditions that cause such inflammation, when this occurs, the immune system responds in a way that changes the way the body works.

Diagnosis and treatment

The first test used for diagnose anemia It is a complete blood count, which measures different parts and characteristics of the blood: it shows the average number and size of red blood cells, as well as the amount of hemoglobin. A lower than normal red blood cell count or low hemoglobin levels indicate anemia is present, and may be necessary do more tests to discover the type of affection

And to treat it? Of course, it depends on the type of anemia. If it is related to a nutritional deficiency, the logical thing will be to do dietary changes (For example, it may be necessary to take supplemental iron for several months or vitamins to improve the levels of these nutrients in the blood). More serious problems, such as plastic anemia or thalassemia, can tbe taken with medications or blood transfusions. The fundamental thing is that if you find that something is not going well with your body or you have any of the aforementioned symptoms, consult your GP.