Approximately three million Americans suffer from anemia, a condition that occurs when the body’s red blood cell count is less than normal.Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, an iron-based protein that helps blood cells carry oxygen. When you are anemic, your blood can’t deliver the proper oxygen supply to your organs and tissues.According to the World Health Organization, males who have less than 13 grams of hemoglobin per deciliter are anemic. For women, the criteria is less than 12 grams of hemoglobin per deciliter.
Anything that disrupts the normal life span of the red blood cells may cause anemia, including a decrease in red blood cell production, an increase in destruction of red blood cells or excessive blood loss. There are different types of anemia, depending on their cause.
Women and people with chronic diseases are at highest risk for anemia. Some of the conditions that may cause it are heavy blood loss during menstruation, pregnancy, ulcers, intestinal disorders, cancer, bleeding disorders, other chronic diseases, or a deficiency of iron, folic acid, vitamin B12. Certain types of anemia can also be inherited.
Symptoms vary depending on the cause and may range from mild to severe. Common symptoms are fatigue, pale skin, a fast or irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, cognitive problems, headaches, cold hands and feet, lack of energy, hair loss and high or low blood pressure.