Anemia meaning: Types, Symptoms & Causes

Anemia meaning: Anemia is a medical condition or disease, in which the number of red blood cells (erythrocytes) and the hemoglobin are decreased under the reference values. In some cases, the Anemia is own disease, while in other cases it is only one symptom of another disease.

Anemia meaning: Types, Symptoms & Causes

Red blood cells are important because they contain hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body's muscles and organs. The body requires oxygen for energy.

A person who has anemia is called anemic. Normal hemoglobin level is generally different in males and females. Standard Hb (Hemoglobin) level is usually defined as-

For men >> more than 13.5 gram/100 ml
For women >> more than 12.0 gram/100 ml

How does the body make blood?

Blood is comprised of two parts: a liquid known as the plasma and a cellular part. The cellular part contains several different cell types.

One of the foremost important and the most numerous cell sorts are red blood cells.

Only red blood cells are mentioned in this article. The purpose of the red blood cell is to deliver oxygen from the lungs to different parts of the body.

Read Also: 14 Foods to Increase Blood Platelets Quickly

Red blood cells

They are made in the bone marrow (inner part of the femur and pelvic bones that make most of the cells in the blood), and when all the proper steps in their maturation are complete, they are released into the bloodstream.

The hemoglobin molecule is the functional unit of the red blood cells and is a complex protein structure that's within the red blood cells.

Contrary to most cells in the human body, red blood cells do not have a nucleus (metabolic center of a cell).

• Red blood cells live about a hundred days, so the body is constantly trying to replace them.

Doctors try to verify if a low red blood cell count is caused by increased blood loss of red blood cells or from reduced production of them in the bone marrow.

Knowing whether the number of white blood cells and/or platelets has changed also helps determine the cause of anemia.

What causes anemia?

Blood Loss

Blood loss is the most typical reason for anemia (especially iron-deficiency anemia).

Blood loss may be short term or persist over time. Surgery, trauma, or cancer can also cause blood loss. If a lot of blood is lost, the body may lose enough red blood cells to cause anemia.

Lack of Red Blood Cell Production

Both acquired and inherited conditions and factors can stop your body from producing enough red blood cells.
Acquired means that you're not born with the condition, but you develop it.

Inherited means that your parents passed the gene for the condition on to you. Acquired conditions and factors that can lead to anemia include a poor diet, abnormal hormone levels, some chronic (ongoing) diseases, and pregnancy.


Your body needs the hormone erythropoietin (eh-rith-ro-POY-eh-tin) to make red blood cells. This hormone stimulates the bone marrow to make these cells. A low level of this hormone can result in anemia.

Diseases and Disease Treatments

Chronic diseases, like kidney disease and cancer, can make it hard for your body to create enough red blood cells.

Some cancer treatments may damage the bone marrow or damage the red blood cell's ability to carry oxygen.

If the bone marrow is damaged, it can not make red blood cells fast enough to replace the ones that die or are destroyed.

People who have HIV/AIDS may develop anemia due to infections or medicines used to treat their diseases.


Anemia can occur during pregnancy because of low levels of iron and folic acid and changes in the blood.

During the first 6 months of pregnancy, the fluid portion of the woman blood (the plasma) increases faster than the number of red blood cells. This dilutes the blood and can lead to anemia.

Aplastic Anemia

Some infants are born without the power to make enough red blood cells. This condition is called aplastic anemia.

Acquired conditions or factors, like certain medicines, toxins, and infectious diseases, also can cause aplastic anemia.

High Rates of Red Blood Cell Destruction

Both acquired and inherited conditions and factors can cause your body to destroy too several red blood cells.

The spleen is an organ that removes worn-out red blood cells from the body.

If the spleen is enlarged or diseased, it may remove more red blood cells than normal, causing anemia.

Types of Anemia

The most common anemia types:

• Iron deficiency anemia.
• Thalassemia.
• Aplastic anemia.
• Hemolytic anemia.
• Sickle cell anemia.
• Pernicious anemia.
• Fanconi anemia.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

The most common form of anemia is iron deficiency anemia which is usually due to chronic blood loss caused by excessive menstruation.

Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic anemia is a blood disorder in which the body’s bone marrow does not make enough new blood cells.

This may result in a number of health problems including arrhythmias, an enlarged heart, heart failure, infections, and bleeding. Aplastic anemia is a rare but serious condition. It can develop suddenly or slowly and tends to worsen with time unless the cause is found and treated.

Hemolytic Anemia

Hemolytic anemia can lead to various health problems such as fatigue, pain, arrhythmias, an enlarged heart, and heart failure.


Thalassemias are inherited blood disorders that cause the body to make fewer healthy red blood cells and less hemoglobin (an iron-rich protein in red blood cells).

The two major types of thalassemia are alpha- and beta-thalassemia. The most severe form of alpha thalassemia is known as alpha thalassemia major or hydrops fetalis, while the severe form of beta-thalassemia is known as thalassemia major or Cooley’s anemia.

Sickle Cell Anemia

In this type of anemia Sickle cells contain abnormal hemoglobin that causes the cells to have a sickle shape, which does not move simply through the blood vessels – they’re stiff and sticky and tend to form clumps and get stuck in the blood vessels.

Sickle cells usually die after about 10 to 20 days and the body can not reproduce red blood cells fast enough to replace the dying ones, which causes anemia.

Pernicious Anemia

Pernicious anemia is a condition in which the body cannot make enough healthy red blood cells as a result of it doesn’t have enough vitamin B12 (a nutrient found in certain foods).

Fanconi Anemia

Fanconi anemia, or FA, is a rare, inherited blood disorder that leads to bone marrow failure. FA is a type of aplastic anemia that prevents your bone marrow from making enough new blood cells for your body to work normally.

FA can also cause your bone marrow to make several abnormal blood cells. This can lead to serious health problems, such as leukemia.FA is a blood disorder, but it can also affect many of the body’s organs, tissues, and systems. FA is an unpredictable disease.

Anemia Sign and Symptoms

signs of anemia

Because a low red blood cell count decreases oxygen delivery to every tissue in the body, anemia can cause a range of signs and symptoms.

It can also worsen the symptoms of almost any other underlying medical condition.

The most common symptoms of anemia are the feeling of fatigue or weakness. The excessive fatigue often can be caused by many reasons, but if the process continues for a long time, it definitely should consult a doctor for a diagnosis of the disease. Other important anemia symptoms are also:

• Fatigue
• Decreased energy
• Weakness
• Shortness of breath
• Lightheadedness
• Looking pale

Symptoms of severe anemia may include:

• Chest pain, angina, or heart attack
• Dizziness
• Fainting or passing out
• Rapid heart rate

Some of the signs that may indicate anemia in an individual may include (Anemia Signs):

• Pale or cold skin.
• Yellow skin is known as jaundice if anemia is because of red blood cell breakdown.

These symptoms are most often following the overload of the heart, which is trying to compensate for the reduced oxygen in the blood. The anemia can bring you to a heart attack if it is not treated fast and accurate.

The heart is trying to pump a larger volume of the blood to the tissues, which causes breathlessness, headache, and fatigue. Important symptoms of anemia are also poor concentration, chapped lips, and flat or even concave nails.

Definitely, the anemia disease should not be negligeed, as the complication can be serious and really dangerous for the health. The anemia symptoms should be followed strictly by the patient, as usually, the disease can seriously hurt the body and all its organs.

The anemia symptoms can go unnoticed for many people as they are mild. In such cases, the disease can continue for a long time, as it is not diagnosed without special blood tests.

This can be really dangerous, as the anemia is leading to arrhythmias (rapid or irregular heartbeat), which damages the heart, causing its increase and eventually lead to heart failure.


Of course, the more serious anemia conditions can damage the other organs in the body, as the blood does not deliver enough oxygen to them. The anemia disease can affect both genders, but however, the statistics from NAMCS and NHAMCS are giving the following results, which are showing that women are more vulnerable to such diseases.

It is good to know that no-one is protected from anemia, as it is a common disease that affects both genders and all ages.

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