Q. and A. with Dr. Kiskila- This Month’s Topic: Anemia
Question- Dr. Kiskila, what is anemia?
Answer- Anemia is a decreased number of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen; people with anemia may not be getting the oxygen their bodies need.
Question- How do I get anemia?
Answer- Anemia can be caused by many things, but the most common reasons are blood loss, and decreased iron absorption. Anemia can also be caused by chronic conditions that cause too few blood cells to be produced. Blood loss may be from heavy menstrual periods in women, or from a stomach ulcer that bleeds. The GI tract absorbs iron, so iron deficiency anemia is sometimes seen in GI tract conditions like gastritis, or gastric bypass surgery. Pregnant women can get iron deficient anemia due to the increased need of the fetus for iron. Also, anemia from chronic conditions such as arthritis or cancer can cause the body to produce less red blood cells.
Question- What are the symptoms of anemia?
Answer- Many people with anemia have no symptoms, but if red bloods cell become too few, there will be symptoms. Some symptoms of anemia include: fatigue, feeling tired, low energy, weakness, irritability, headaches, and difficulty exercising. Additional signs of anemia are brittle nails, sore tongue, restless legs, or cravings to eat ice or non-food items like dirt, paper or starch.
Question- Who is most likely affected by anemia?
Answer- Some types of anemia can be tested, like iron deficiency anemia by checking a blood test for red blood cells and iron levels. But some forms of anemia may not be tested like anemia from chronic conditions. Causes of anemia such as blood loss may be determined from a person’s history. Testing for stomach ulcers, colon cancer, GI disorders, and bleeding disorders may be needed to determine the source of anemia.
Question- What is the treatment for anemia?
Answer- The treatment for anemia depends on the source. If the anemia is from iron deficiency, then replacing the iron with supplements, through diet, or blood transfusions may be helpful. If anemia is caused from blood loss, then controlling the bleeding is the best treatment. However, if anemia is caused from a chronic condition, then treatment is to control the condition.
IRON RICH FOODS:
Question- How do I prevent getting anemia?
Answer- Anemia prevention depends on the underlying cause. If iron deficiency is the cause, then taking iron supplements may help prevent anemia. It is possible to overdose on iron, so taking supplements should be recommended by a doctor.
The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.