The most basic facet of understanding anemia has got to be comprehending the definition of anemia, and ways in which the disease may be diagnosed. By definition, anemia is a condition in which the blood has a low concentration of healthy red blood cells. It is also defined as the lack of hemoglobin which is really the main component of these red blood cells, and whose sole purpose is to bind to oxygen that is in circulation in the body. In cases where one has a low concentration of the red blood cells, or these cells have an abnormal structure, the end result is that several cells within different parts of the body do not get sufficient oxygen for proper functioning.
Factors Contributing to Anemia
Part of understanding anemia involves the realization that there are a number of factors that contribute to this condition. For instance, some types of anemia are passed on from generation to another, and babies born with the condition are likely to be affected from infancy. Women are naturally pre-disposed to getting anemia due to natural events such as menses, pregnancy and the process of childbirth. Other medical conditions contribute to the development of anemia so that it is important to know what the causative agent of anemia is. Generally, anemia is distinguished by grouping the disease in three broad categories as follows:
- Anemia that results from severe loss of blood. This kind of bleeding may be acute or chronic. Acute bleeding results from sudden trauma to the body, while chronic bleeding occurs over prolonged periods of time without detection. The main causes of the latter include conditions that affect the gastrointestinal system such as ulcers, continual use of NSAID’s which promote ulcers as well as excessive bleeding during menstruation.
- It is impossible to talk about understanding anemia without making mention of causes that arise from the decreased synthesis of red blood cells. In this kind of anemia, the few cells produced do not function as they should. Some of the associated disorders for this type of anemia include iron-deficiency anemia, problems of the bone marrow (site of red blood cells synthesis) as well as sickle cell anemia.
Sickle Cell Anemia
In sickle cell anemia, the red blood cells take up the crescent shape so that the area of binding oxygen is reduced severely. Such cells are also unable to be transported through tiny blood vessels, and will usually get stuck, thus causing pain and clots. Iron deficiency anemia, just as the name suggests, results from lack of iron which is used to synthesize Hemoglobin.
- There are other conditions that are imperative when it comes to understanding anemia. These conditions will usually be accompanied by a decreased concentration of the hormones required for red blood cells synthesis. Such conditions include disease of the kidneys, chronic conditions as well as disorders of the thyroid gland.
- Anemia may also be caused by rapid destruction of the red blood cells following conditions such stress factors, toxins within the body as well as an enlarged spleen.
The treatment options for the above mentioned types of anemia also contribute to understanding anemia.