Anemia is a common condition and can range from mild to severe. At its worse, it can lead to serious health complications, including heart failure. Candace N. Prince, DO, with Lexington Family Practice Chapin answers our questions about the condition.
What is anemia?
Anemia is a blood disorder that develops when your blood produces a lower-than-normal amount of healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin to carry oxygen to the body's tissues.
What are the warning signs someone may experience?
The symptoms of anemia may be mild or more pronounced, depending on the severity of the condition. Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
What causes anemia?
There are numerous causes of anemia, including:
- Low iron intake or absorption (the most common cause of anemia)
- Blood loss from heavy menstrual bleeding, an ulcer, cancer or regular use of NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin)
- Vitamin deficiencies such B-12 or folate
- Increased destruction of red blood cells
- Inherited conditions such as sickle cell anemia or thalassemia
How is anemia treated?
Treatment depends on the type of anemia. It is important to seek evaluation and treatment for anemia to address the underlying cause. Healthcare providers may recommend changing your diet or taking supplements if you have nutritional anemia.
If you have anemia caused by a chronic disease, your provider will treat the underlying condition. They may prescribe medication to boost red blood cell production.
What can you do to prevent anemia?
Many types of anemia can't be prevented, but eating a healthy diet is the most important thing you can do to avoid iron deficiency anemia and vitamin deficiency anemias. It is also essential to have regular annual exams with your primary care physician, as anemia is one of the most common problems identified with routine labs.
Candace N. Prince, DO, with Lexington Family Practice Chapin