The word anemia came derived from the Greek word anaimia, meaning lack of blood; which is actually the reduction of red blood cells.
Anemia is characterized by a reduction of erythrocytes also know as red blood cells, which are cells that carry oxygen to the body.
To better understand the seriousness of this situation let’s find out what our blood consists of, it is divided into three components; plasma, leukocytes (white blood cells), platelets and red blood cells.
Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood and it is about 55% of the total volume, and consists of 92% water.
44% of blood is composed of red blood cells (erythrocytes) and only about 1% by white blood cells.
Being diagnosed with anemia means that the level of red blood cells is low, meaning the blood is more diluted causing the following symptoms:
- Extreme tiredness
- Pale skin
- Difficulty in reasoning
All of these symptoms are due to low blood count, and the lack of oxygen when counts are low.
Now I am sure that everyone has heard about hemoglobin before, when someone has low hemoglobin levels they could be anemic. What is hemoglobin?
We already know that erythrocytes or red blood cells transport oxygen to our organs, and that the hemoglobin is the iron carrier molecule that makes up the red blood cell, which is its most important component. People with low iron levels fail to produce hemoglobin, which is necessary for the production of red blood cells. The result is inevitable, a decrease in red blood cells which causes anemia.
That’s why when blood work is done, the hemoglobin level is the most crucial factor when diagnosing anemia than the hematocrit level which is the name given to the percentage of red blood cells. However, I would like to point out a very important issue: not all anemia diagnosis is resolved through the replacement of iron, since there are several types of anemia.
For example, in the case of a health problem that prevents the production of red blood cells (hemoglobin being just a component of the red blood cell) the replacement of it may not be enough to increase the red blood cell count, therefore the problem will not be resolved.
Therefore, each case should be watched closely by a hematologist (specialist in blood issues) in order to verify the origin of the reduction of red blood cells and the most effective treatment.
Many people deal with anemia like if it were something as simple as constipation, believing that just by increasing their intake of greens everything will be okay. I, however, leave you with this warning: When anemia has been detected and especially in cases where it is persistent or chronic, it is extremely important to be under medical supervision to avoid other pathologies resulting from anemia.
Until next week!