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You always hear people associate anemia and fatigue. Anemia is associated with fatigue. But, why? There are 40 different types of anemia. Most of these anemias are very rare. The most common types of anemia are iron deficiency and B-12 deficiency. We will be looking at each type of anemia this week.

What is Anemia?

Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. These cells are the main transporters of oxygen to organs. If red blood cells are also deficient in hemoglobin, then your body isn’t getting enough oxygen. As we all know oxygen is important in breathing, it is also important to our organs and tissue.

Symptoms of Anemia:

  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Cognitive problems
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headache

Initially, anemia can be so mild it goes unnoticed. But signs and symptoms increase as anemia worsens.

Diagnosing Anemia:

  • Physical exam. During a physical exam your doctor may listen to your heart and your breathing. Your doctor may also place his or her hands on your abdomen to feel the size of your liver and spleen.
  • Complete blood count (CBC). A CBC is used to count the number of blood cells in a sample of your blood. For anemia, your doctor will be interested in the levels of the red blood cells contained in the blood (hematocrit) and the hemoglobin in your blood. Normal adult hematocrit values vary from one medical practice to another, but are generally between 38.8 and 50 percent for men and 34.9 and 44.5 percent for women. Normal adult hemoglobin values are generally 13.5 to 17.5 grams per deciliter for men and 12 to 15.5 grams per deciliter for women.
  • A test to determine the size and shape of your red blood cells. Some of your red blood cells may also be examined for unusual size, shape and color. Doing so can help pinpoint a diagnosis. For example, in iron deficiency anemia, red blood cells are smaller and paler in color than normal. In vitamin deficiency anemias, red blood cells are enlarged and fewer in number.

If you are experiencing symptoms of anemia, it is important to make an appointment to see your health care provider. If you have anemia, a physical examination and blood work will help your provider to diagnose the correct type of anemia.

Most anemias are treatable by your health care provider; some require a referral to a hematologist. Coming up we will be looking at iron deficiency anemia and B-12 deficiency anemia….. stay tuned!