There are several types of anaemia, the most common being Iron-deficiency Anaemia. Other inherited types of anaemia include the so-called Haemolytic Anaemias (e.g. Sickle cell anaemia, Thalassaemia, etc.) whereby Red Blood Cells are fragile and break easily in the bloodstream. Aplastic anaemia occurs as a result of some cancers which affect the bone marrow such as leukemia. Our focus is on Iron-deficiency anaemia which is caused by a lack of iron in the body. We need iron to manufacture Haemoglobin contained in each Red Blood Cell. Haemoglobin is a protein molecule which binds to oxygen and help to transport and store it in the bloodstream. Deficiency of iron (and other vitamins) in our bone marrows leads to a lack of Hb, which can leads to anaemia. Read more about Iron-deficiency Anaemia...
Many factors can play a role in the lack of iron in our bodies. To note a few:
- stomach bleeding as a result of stomach ulcers, stomach cancer, etc. That's why our Faecal Occult Blood test which checks for blood in faeces is such an important screening test to take!
- pregnancy as the body requires extra iron to cater for the growing baby
- Heavy menstrual periods which cause more iron to be lost through the blood, than it is being replaced through diet
- Poor or restricted diet lacking enough nutrients such as iron
- Sometimes you eat enough iron but it is not being properly absorbed in the gut, for it to reach the bloodstream. This poor absorption of iron might be due to another underlying disease of the gut such as Celiac Disease ( a genetic autoimmune disorder whereby eating gluten leads to damage in the small intestine) or Crohn's Disease (a long-term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system)
Mild anaemia causes mild symptons, or no symptoms at all in some cases. The severity of symptoms depends on how quickly the anaemia develops. If not managed severe anemia can lead to several complications, of which some can be life-threatening. Anaemia-reduced immunity and can leave a patient susceptible to illness and infection.
Common symptoms include:
- tiredness and lack of energy (feeling lethargic)
- becoming easily breathless
- having heart palpitations. Severe palpitations can lead to heart failure
- having a pale complexion (owing to the shortage of enough Red Blood Cells in the blood)
- having dry (brittle) nails
Anaemia in children may also cause behavioural and intellectual development problems.
A simple blood test is all it takes to check if you have this kind of anaemia. Your doctor will test your blood for the level of Haemoglobin (Hb). This can be achieved by using our TrueHb meter which gives an Hb result in few minutes using a small amount of blood. TrueHb meter is very easy to use with just 3 steps:
Learn more about this product by downloading the brochure here
Your doctor may also test for ferritin, a protein that stores iron. If your ferritin levels are low, it means there is not a lot of iron stored in your body and you may have Iron-deficiency Anaemia.
If your doctor suspects other decificiencies might be at fault, they might test for levels of Vitamin B12 and Folate. These two play an important role in the body's ability to produce Red Blood Cells. The doctor might also ask questions about other medical conditions you might have, if you are taking any other medication, family history, if you donate blood regularly, your diet, and menstrual patterns in the case of women.
A physical examination might also be required in some cases such as rectal examination (to check for any gastrointestinal bleeding) or pelvic examination (to check for the cause of a heavy menstrual pattern)
Treating anaemia depends on the cause. If the anaemia is due to a lack of iron, eating iron-rich food or iron supplements is usually effective. Food rich in iron include:
- Red meat, pork and poultry
- Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, watercress, curly kale, etc.
- Dried fruit, such as raisins, prunes, apricots, etc.
- Iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas
- Food and drinks rich in Vitamin C are also good as it helps the body to abosrb iron
If the cause of anaemia is more serious like internal bleeding, focus is put on treating the underlying cause. For more severe cases of anaemia, a blood transfusion might be required
Your doctor will continue to monitor over time how well you are in improving on whichever treatment option has been prescribed.
Get in touch any time to enquire about blood tests we supply for anaemia and many other conditions.
Tel: +2710 223 7461
Cell: +2772 349 2400