Anemia is a particular physical condition in which the amount of hemoglobin in the blood or the number of red blood cells in a person falls below the normal level. More specifically, it is a condition caused by the deficiency of iron in the blood. In fact, hemoglobin is a protein in the red cells that contains iron. It is carried in the red blood cells of the human blood and imparts the red color. Hemoglobin makes it possible for the blood to carry oxygen. The body’s tissue needs oxygen to function properly. The lack of the minimum amount of red blood cells or hemoglobin would result in a poor oxygen supply to the body and hence people suffering from anemia look pale and feel tired as they become oxygen-starved.
In every healthy human being, hemoglobin maintains certain of concentration. The mean values of hemoglobin for male are 15gm per deciliter and for female 13.5gm per deciliter. Values which are less than 2.5 or 3 standard deviations below the mean value are indicative of anemia. The mean values are greater for males than for the females and again greater in adults as compared to children.
To detect anemia, the concentration of three things in the blood is measured. These are the hemoglobin, the red cell count, and hematocrit. If the values of these things are below the normal level, the person is said to be anemic.
This disease may have several causes. The major ones are:
- Defective blood formation
- Cell destruction and
- Extensive loss of blood.
Moreover, there are a number of physical disorders, any of which can cause different types of anemia. Some of the specific types of anemia are:
- Microcytic (red cells are smaller than normal size)
- Macrocytic(red cells are longer than normal size)
- Normocytic(red cells are of normal size) and
- Hypochromic anemia(cells contains very little hemoglobin)
Anemia resulting from sudden blood loss is generally normocytic in nature.
Red cells have an average lifespan of 120 days in the circulation. Each day about 45,000 red cells per microliter is removed in a healthy person. They are replaced with new cells from the bone marrow. Anemia occurs when this rate of removal of red cells from the circulation exceeds the replacement or when the production of red cells is impaired or the ineffective in delivering cells to the circulation. Anemia also occurs due to the lack of iron in the diet. Some kinds of anemia can be treated by eating iron-rich foods. Medicines are also available to supply iron required to maintain the desirable level.
Anemia which results from the increased red blood cell destruction is known as hemolytic anemia. This may be caused by poisoning, a kind of malaria, poor diet, allergy or some hereditary condition.