Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Overview of Anemia

Overview of Anemia

What is anemia?

Anemia is a common blood disorder that occurs when there are fewer red blood cells than normal, or there is a low concentration of hemoglobin in the blood.

Anemia is often a symptom of a disease rather than a disease itself. Anemia usually develops due to the presence of one of the following:

What are the symptoms of anemia?

Most symptoms of anemia are a result of the decrease of oxygen getting to the cells and tissues of the body, or hypoxia. Because the hemoglobin in red blood cells carries oxygen, a decreased production or number of these cells result in hypoxia. Many of the symptoms will not be present with mild anemia, as the body can often compensate for gradual changes in hemoglobin.

The following are the most common symptoms of anemia. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. The symptoms may include, but are not limited to, the following:

The symptoms of anemia may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. Because anemia is often a symptom associated with another disease, it is important for your doctor to be aware of symptoms you may be experiencing. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

What causes anemia?

Generally, anemia may be caused by several problems, including the following:

What are the different types of anemia?

There are several different types of anemia, each with a specific cause and treatment, including the following:

How is anemia diagnosed?

Anemia may be suspected from general findings on a complete medical history and physical examination, such as complaints of tiring easily, pale skin and lips, or a fast heartbeat (tachycardia). Anemia is usually discovered during a medical examination through blood tests that measure the concentration of hemoglobin and the number of red blood cells.

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for anemia may include:

Treatment for anemia

Specific treatment for anemia will be determined by your doctor based on:

Treatment may include:

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