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Red blood cells, sickle cell
Red blood cells, sickle cell


Red blood cells, elliptocytosis
Red blood cells, elliptocytosis


Red blood cells, spherocytosis
Red blood cells, spherocytosis


Red blood cells, multiple sickle cells
Red blood cells, multiple sickle cells


Ovalocytoses
Ovalocytoses


Red blood cells, sickle cells
Red blood cells, sickle cells


Red blood cells, sickle and pappenheimer
Red blood cells, sickle and pappenheimer


Red blood cells, target cells
Red blood cells, target cells


Hemoglobin
Hemoglobin


Definition:

Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues.

Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying protein inside red blood cells. It gives red blood cells their red color. People with anemia do not have enough hemoglobin.

See also:



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

The cause depends on the type of anemia. Possible causes include:

  • Certain medications
  • Diseases such as cancer or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Genes -- some forms of anemia can be inherited
  • Kidney failure
  • Blood loss (for example, from heavy menstrual periods)
  • Poor diet
  • Pregnancy
  • Problems with bone marrow (where blood cells are made)
  • Problems with the immune system that cause the destruction of blood cells
  • Surgery to the stomach or intestines that reduces the absorption of iron, vitamin B12, or folic acid


Symptoms:

Possible symptoms include:

Some types of anemia may have other symptoms, such as:



Signs and tests:

The doctor will perform a physical examination, and may find:

  • Pale skin
  • Rapid heart rate

Some types of anemia may cause other findings on a physical exam.

The following blood tests are used to diagnose anemia:

Other tests may be done to identify medical problems that can cause anemia.



Treatment:

Treatment should be directed at the cause of the anemia, and may include:

  • Blood transfusions
  • Corticosteroids or other medicines that suppress the immune system
  • Erythropoietin, a medicine that helps your bone marrow make more blood cells
  • Supplements of iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, or other vitamins and minerals


Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

The outlook depends on the cause.



Complications:

Severe anemia can cause low oxygen levels in vital organs such as the heart, and can lead to a heart attack .



Calling your health care provider:

Call your health provider if you have any symptoms of anemia, or any unusual bleeding.



Prevention:



References:

Antony AC. Megaloblastic anemias. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 170.

Zuckerman KS. Approach to the anemias. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 162.




Review Date: 4/5/2009
Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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