Anemia is a below normal number of red blood cells or a decreased production of hemoglobin. The Geisinger Health System uses the World Health Organization’s definition of anemia:
- For males, a hemoglobin less than 13 g/dl
- For females, a hemoglobin less than 12 g/dl
The most common cause of anemia in industrialized countries is iron (Fe) deficiency. Iron deficiency can result from hidden blood loss or from lack of iron in the diet. The body requires sufficient iron to make adequate amounts of hemoglobin; this may be due to an iron deficient diet, iron not absorbed by the body efficiently, or there maybe presence of a chronic blood loss. Your Blood Conservation Team also screens for other types of anemia such as pernicious.
Symptoms of anemia
- Heart palpations or irregular heart rhythm
- Pale skin, nail beds, conjunctiva of the eyes and gums
If the anemia is severe enough, may cause serious problems such as increased workload on the heart, which can lead to acute cardiac failure.
The best way to prevent anemia is to eat a healthy, well balanced diet that includes foods rich in iron, Vitamins C and B12, and folic acid.
If you have the above symptoms or think you may have anemia, discuss with your doctor.