Anemia Causes Weakness

Blackboard with Anemia written on it

Anemia is a blood condition that can make you feel weak. Anyone who has become fatigued can take a simple blood test to find out if they have anemia. Anemia occurs when there are not enough red cells in blood to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. Anemia can cause shortness of breath, dizziness, and many other symptoms. It can worsen the symptoms from other medical conditions, such as chest pain that comes from heart disease.

Dozens of medical conditions can cause anemia. Some cause anemia by slowing the formation of red cells in the bone marrow. Others cause anemia by increasing the destruction of red cells in the body. The spleen can cause anemia by holding onto red blood cells or destroying them. Anemia can be temporary or chronic.

Bleeding can cause iron deficiency and anemia. In young women the bleeding is usually from heavy menstruation. Bleeding from the stomach or intestine can be diagnosed by introducing a fiberoptic scope into the stomach or bowel. Most cases of iron deficiency anemia come from bleeding, but some are caused by an iron poor diet or intestinal malabsorption.

Vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency can cause anemia. Thyroid or kidney malfunction can also cause anemia. Chronic diseases or problems with the immune system are other causes. Many of these conditions are diagnosed with simple blood tests. If blood tests fail to diagnose the cause of anemia, a biopsy of bone marrow may be necessary. This is done under local anesthesia by inserting a needle into the hip bone. The biopsy may show cells that infiltrate the bone marrow and choke off blood production. Sometimes despite extensive testing the cause of anemia is not found. Most cases of anemia are not serious; only rarely does the anemia result from a serious illness.

Treatment may be necessary if the symptoms get worse. Different anemias require different treatments. Iron deficiency is treated with iron pills, and by stopping the bleeding. Vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiencies are treated with vitamins. Anemia from kidney malfunction or chronic disease can be treated with hormones that stimulate red cell growth in bone marrow.

Anemia is usually a chronic problem that can be effectively managed. A patient on treatment will usually feel more pep when their anemia improves.

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