CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Conditions InDepth: Anemia

Anemia is an inadequate amount of red blood cells. These blood cells are made by the body in the bone marrow. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a substance that picks up oxygen from your lungs, carries it throughout your body, and gives it to your cells. Your cells need this oxygen to perform the basic functions that generate energy and keep you alive. In addition, hemoglobin picks up some of the carbon dioxide given off by your cells and returns it to the lungs, where it is exhaled when you breathe out. Without enough red blood cells to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide, your body functions at a less than optimal level.

Hemoglobin

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

There are many causes of anemia, which can be broadly grouped into 3 categories:

Blood Loss

Any loss of blood automatically decrease the amount of red blood cells. If you are bleeding heavily, you will rapidly become anemic and may develop severe symptoms including shock.

Slow leaks that you are unaware of, such as bleeding from a stomach ulcer or from colon cancer, can also lead to anemia if the blood loss exceeds your body's ability to create new blood cells.

Failure to Make Enough Normal Red Blood Cells or Hemoglobin

Dietary intake of iron, folic acid, and vitamin B 12 are necessary to make red blood cells. Low levels of these nutrients can effect how the bone marrow functions, and fewer red blood cells will be made. In addition, cancers, certain drugs and toxins, allergic reactions to medicines, and chronic illness can cripple the bone marrow so that it makes damaged or low numbers of red blood cells. Hereditary defects, such as sickle cell disease, also may lead to anemia. When the bone marrow fails completely the condition is known as aplastic anemia.

Rapid Destruction of Red Blood Cells    TOP

Red blood cells normally last for 3-4 months before they are destroyed and their contents recycled. If they are defective, or if the recycling process is sped up, the marrow may not be able to keep up with the demand for new red cells. Defective red blood cells are also more fragile and therefore do not last as long. Normal red blood cells can also be destroyed rapidly by diseases, such as malaria and Rh incompatibility between a mother and her unborn child.

Next

References:

Anemia—differential diagnosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated January 21, 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016.
What is anemia?. National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 18, 2012. Accessed September 15, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2017 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 11/3/2017

 

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000