When anemia is mentioned, most people immediately think iron deficiency. But did you know that there are over 400 different types of anemia, according to experts? However, some are more common than the rest, and they are the ones that we’ll get to know in this article.
No matter the type of anemia, one thing is for certain: there’s an insufficiency red blood cells in the blood. Why are red blood cells so important? Well, they contain a type of protein called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the one that gives red blood cells their red coloration, and at the same time permits them to carry oxygen molecules.
If the number of red blood cells in the blood is inadequate, it can be a real problem! That’s because the various cells and tissues of your body will fail to get much-needed oxygen. This is why fatigue is a very common indicator of anemia — it signifies that your muscles are not being supplied with enough oxygen.
Now that you are more familiar with what anemia is and why it needs to be corrected, let’s now take a quick look at the some of the most common forms of this blood disorder:
This is the type of anemia that many people are familiar with. Just like what the name says, it is because of the lack of iron, which is a mineral necessary for the production of those oxygen-carrying red blood cells. A lot of people are at risk of iron-deficiency anemia, including especially those who are not including enough iron-rich foods in their diets. Pregnant women and females with heavy bleeding during their period may also suffer from it.
It’s not just iron that you need for the proper synthesis of red blood cells, but also vitamin B12. It’s for this reason why a diet that’s lacking in the said vitamin may also cause anemia, in particular the so-called pernicious anemia. Sometimes pernicious anemia may also be due to intestinal problems that inhibit the absorption of vitamin B12.
There are instances wherein deficiency in vitamin B12 as well as another nutrient called folic acid can cause anemia, in particular the so-called megaloblastic anemia. This is characterized by the production of large red blood cells by the bone marrow. Despite of being larger than normal, red blood cells produced when there’s insufficiency in vitamin B12 and folic acid are structurally abnormal, keeping them from properly carrying oxygen molecules.
Sickle Cell Anemia
This particular type of anemia is hereditary, which means that it tends to runs in families. Sickle cell anemia is characterized by the presence of crescent-shaped red blood cells, hence the blood disorder’s name. The deformed red blood cells are destroyed by the body, and the bone marrow simply cannot catch up with the demand for newer red blood cells.
It’s similar to sickle cell anemia in a way that red blood cells are destroyed by the body and cannot be replaced promptly by the bone marrow. Red blood cells usually stay in the body for 120 days, but hemolytic anemia causes their early destruction. Experts say that there are many different reasons why the body eradicates normal red blood cells, and they include infections, exposure to certain toxins, autoimmune problems and genetic defects.
Just like what’s mentioned earlier, red blood cells are synthesized by the bone marrow. However, the bone marrow also produces other components of the blood such as white blood cells and platelets. In aplastic anemia, the bone marrow fails to produce enough red blood cells as well as other blood components. A rare type of anemia, experts say that aplastic anemia can stem from infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, toxin exposure, and cancer treatment.