Anemia is the difficulty or decrease in the transport of oxygen to other tissues through the red blood cells. Some symptoms may be tiredness, headache or joint pain. However, not all anemias are the same and the main objective is to find out what their cause is and the possible underlying diseases.
What is anemia?
Anemia, as we know it today, is not a disease in itself, but rather is a syndromic set of signs and symptoms under which it will be necessary to investigate if there is a disease that causes them.
However, anemia is defined as the difficulty or decrease in oxygen transport by red blood cells to the rest of the body's tissues.
Symptoms of anemia
The main symptom of anemia, according to experts in hematology , is fatigue. Other patients also report headache, joint discomfort, blurred vision and, a traditional symptom, especially in children, although it is seen less often (because it is mostly anemia that is allowed to evolve for a long time ) is the craving for the plaster of the wall, which is called "Pica".
On the other hand, although everything depends on the original cause of the anemia, we find:pallorexcessive hair loss- brittle nails (when the underlying cause of anemia is a vitamin deficiency)- increased heart rate and / or respiratory rate- lowering of tension figures- yellowing of skin and / or mucous membranes (jaundice)- enlarged liver or spleen
Are all anemias the same?
Not all anemias are the same. They can be classified in many ways.A classification is from the epidemiological point of view. Thus, there are more frequent anemias in the pediatric age, others in adulthood and others in the old age. In fact, even during the physiological period of pregnancy there are more prevalent anemic processes.Another classification is by origin:- Anemia of central or arregenerative origin: if it occurs due to erythrocyte manufacturing defects in the bone marrow, which is the factory where all the cells that we are in the blood are generated.- Hemolytic anemia: from excess destruction in the bloodstream.
Another way to classify anemia is according to the size of the red blood cell, measured by a laboratory parameter called mean corpuscular volume. Thus, we have:- Microcytic anemia, which produces small red blood cells and causes iron deficiency- Normocytic anemias, which occur with normal size red blood cells and are anemia derived from chronic disease- Macrocytic anemias, with an increased erythrocyte size and anemia derived from vitamin B12 deficiency, alcoholism, liver disease ...
As we see, there are many systemic diseases that underlie the generation of an anemic process. Hematology is a specialty that correlates with other clinical and surgical specialties.
Diagnosis of anemia and the underlying disease
The study of any anemia must be reflexive, careful and systematized. In it many specialists often interact. Everything happens to perform a good study of anemias where clinical data are collected from family and personal history of the patient, physical examination and an appropriate study of complementary tests. Through these tests the specialist will discard processes and pathologies until finding the origin of the same and apply the appropriate treatment.
One myth we must avoid, in which many physicians even err, is to consider that a patient has anemia when the red blood cell count is low. Nothing is further from the reality, since there are anemic processes that occur with erythrocyte counts far above normal.
The laboratory parameter that confirms whether or not we are anemic is the level of hemoglobin in blood or hematocrit. This is the protein that stains the red blood cell of this color and the one in charge of transporting the oxygen towards the rest of the organs of the body.
Are all anemias treated with iron?
This is another idea that we must forget. According to the cause of the anemia it is a question of one form or another. Do not forget that there are anemic processes that occur with high levels of iron deposits in the body.