The most common causes, treatments and symptoms of anemia

Anemia affects 160 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The groups with the highest incidence are preschoolers (45 to 49% of all of them), las pregnant women (41%) and non-pregnant women (30%). The disease is caused by a deficit of iron in the blood, and occurs when the concentration of hemoglobin in red blood cells is very low. After all, hemoglobin is the protein that contains iron and transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

"This disease is very wide, and has hundreds of different conditions, some of them mild and treatable, others quite serious ", says the doctor Nancy Berliner, head of Hematology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in the North American city of Boston, in 'Live Science'.

The risk is higher in people with an iron-free diet, with intestinal disorders, chronic diseases or infections

There are three reasons why people begin to experience symptoms. One of them is that the body does not produce enough red blood cells, the second is that there is a deficit among those that are produced and destroyed and, finally, an excessive loss of blood (possibly due to menstrual periods, the presence of internal bleeding in the colon or a stomach ulcer. The problem is that there may be more than 400 different types of anemia. These are some, compiled by Cari Nierenberg in 'Live Science'.

Due to iron deficiency. The most common. Humans need this chemical element to produce hemoglobin, and Most of the iron comes from the food we eat. Hence, as a child, your mother told you how important it was for you to eat lentils, rich in this mineral so necessary to transport oxygen through the human body. In the case of pregnant women, it may be common, since much more blood is needed to deliver oxygen to the developing fetus, which can undermine the reserves.

For lack of vitamins. The body also needs two different B vitamins, folate and B12, to produce enough red blood cells.

Sickle cell anemia. This disease is hereditary and causes the red blood cells to acquire a crescent instead of a spherical shape. This can lead to obstruction of the smaller blood vessels, which reports pain to the patient. In addition, it can be easily chronified, since the sickle-shaped globules are not flexible and cannot pass through the blood vessels to supply oxygen.

Your risk increases with age, and between 10 and 12% of people over 65 have it

Thalassemia It is a hereditary blood disorder that produces hemoglobin levels below normal. This type of anemia is caused by genetic mutations in one or more genes that control hemoglobin production.

Aplastic anemia. It is a rare and life-threatening disease that develops when the bone marrow stops producing enough new blood cells, such as red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets. Can also be caused by radiation and chemotherapy treatments, which can damage the stem cells in the bone marrow that produces blood cells.

Risk groups

The risk is higher in people with an iron-free diet, with intestinal disorders, chronic diseases or infections. In addition, it increases with age, and between 10 and 12% of people over 65 have it. This does not mean that it is a natural consequence of the aging process, so the causes should be investigated once diagnosed.


  • Fatigue, tiredness or muscle and bone weakness.
  • Pale skin.
  • Excessive shortness of breath, especially when playing sports.
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Dizziness or feeling faint.
  • Excessive thirst.
  • Fast pulse and strong breathing.
  • Cardiac complications


Depending on the type of anemia diagnosed, different medical procedures will be performed. For example, those with iron deficiency disease should take Food supplements for several months to replenish the "stocks" of this element in the body. For the one related to vitamin deficiencies, treatment with B12 or folic acid can improve the levels of these nutrients.