What is anemia?

Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a main part of red blood cells and binds oxygen. If you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or your hemoglobin is abnormal or low, the cells in your body will not get enough oxygen.

This is a very common ailment, wherein the haemoglobin and RBC (red blood corpuscles) counts fall from their normal levels.

The normal level of hemoglobin is generally different in males and females. For men, anemia is typically defined as hemoglobin level of less than 13.5 gram/100 ml and in women as hemoglobin of less than 12.0 gram/100 ml. These definitions may vary slightly depending on the source and the laboratory reference used.


  1. Weakness, dizziness and quick exhaustion.
  2. A haggard look, lined with premature wrinkles.
  3. Eyes stripped off its shine, mirroring fatigue.
  4. Failing memory.
  5. Shortness of breath and palpitation on exertion.
  6. Occasional disturbing headache.
  7. Slow healing of wounds
  8. Pale looking skin and mucus membranes.

Root Causes

  1. Loss of blood from the body i.e. haemorrhaging by injury, bleeding piles, bleeding from nose, mouth, lungs, anus, genital tracts or excessive menstruation in case of women.
  2. Inadequate supply of blood-forming ingredients in food taken.
  3. Destruction of red blood corpuscles inside the body after they are formed.
  4. Deficiency in the production of blood because of defective functioning of liver and / or bone marrow.
  5. Lack of hydrochloric acid in stomach, needed for digestion of iron and proteins.
  6. Presence of hookworms, pinworms, round worms and tapeworms that feed on the supply of blood as well as on vitamins.

Anemia Caused by Iron Deficiency

Without adequate iron, the body is unable to produce normal red blood cells. In young women, iron deficiency anemia can result from heavy menstrual bleeding. Non-menstruating women or men who develop iron deficiency need to have a colon exam (colonoscopy or barium enema) to help identify the source of chronic bleeding.

With iron deficiency anemia, your doctor will probably recommend iron supplements that contain the ferrous form of iron, which your body can absorb easily. Timed-release iron supplements are not a good choice for most people, because iron is primarily absorbed in the upper part of the digestive tract. If you use iron supplements, remember the following cautions:

  1. Always consult with your doctor before taking iron supplements. Excess iron intake can be harmful. Symptoms of iron overload include fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, irritability, heart disease, and joint problems.
  2. Iron supplements -- like all supplements and any medication -- should be kept out of the reach of children. Iron poisoning is the most common cause of accidental poisoning in young children. Eating even a few tablets can prove fatal in a matter of hours. Symptoms of poisoning in a child include dizziness, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Seek medical help immediately.
  3. Watch for side effects. You may need to continue taking iron supplements for up to one year. Taking iron supplements with food can help prevent common side effects, which may include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pain. Let your doctor know if you continue to have side effects. Different formulations are available.
  4. Watch for drug interactions. Tell your doctor if you are being treated for another condition. For example, calcium supplements interfere with iron absorption, so it is best to take them at different times of the day.
  5. The body absorbs iron best when taken in a mildly acidic medium, so taking iron with a half-glass of orange juice or with vitamin C is helpful.