Anemia - Medical Malpractice Lawyers

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Anemia - Medical Malpractice

Anemia is a lack of the right numbers of haemoglobin and red blood cells in the bloodstream. It can be due to several factors. The main causes of anemia are iron deficiency anemia, B12 deficiency anemia, blood loss anemia, and aplastic anemia. Each of these has different causes but have the same basic symptoms.

The cause of iron deficiency anemia is a lack of absorbed iron from the diet. Iron is required to make haemoglobin and it can cause fewer red blood cells that are pale in nature. The cause of B12 anemia is a lack of absorbed B12, usually from a stomach or digestive problem, that results in large red blood cells that are pale and do not have enough haemoglobin in them. The body need intrinsic factor to absorb vitamin B12 and this is made in the stomach. If there is something wrong with the lower stomach, not enough intrinsic factor is made and the body cannot absorb vitamin B12. Blood loss anemia comes from slowly (or quickly) losing blood from the GI tract or from menstruation or injury that causes eventual anemia because there is not enough circulating blood. Aplastic anemia is rare. It results from the bone marrow suddenly stopping the production of blood cells. This can be very severe and can require transfusions.

There are actually four hundred types of anemia, including problems with increased destruction of red blood cells in the spleen, sickle cell anemia and more rare types of anemia, like anemia of kidney failure. Anemia is common and affects about 3.5 million US citizens. It is the most common blood condition you can have. Some types can be hereditary and can affect a child at birth. Anemia is common in pregnancy due to an increased demand for blood and an increased blood volume. Senior citizens are at higher risk for anemia because they do not eat a diet rich in iron and other vitamins.

Blood loss anemia results from bleeding, which can be slow or fast. It can be undetected until the anemia is discovered. Cancer, gastritis, haemorrhoids, and ulcers can cause this type of anemia as can the taking of NSAIDs over a period of time. Childbirth and menstruation can contribute to blood loss anemia. The treatment is to treat the underlying cause and to give transfusions if necessary. Giving iron can contribute to the speedy recovery from this illness.

Faulty production of red blood cell anemia includes sickle cell anemia, vitamin deficiency, iron deficiency, bone marrow and stem cell problems and other health problems. Sickle cell anemia is inherited primarily in African Americans. Red blood cells become shaped like crescents and break down in the spleen and other body areas. It can be painful because the cells get stuck in small blood vessels.

Iron deficiency anemia can occur because of the lack of the mineral, iron, needed to make haemoglobin. This can be because of a low iron diet. Lack of absorption of iron can happen if there is a vitamin C deficiency. You need vitamin C in order to absorb iron effectively. Menstruation and frequent blood donation can contribute to iron deficiency anemia.

Aplastic anemia stems from bone marrow failure. The bone marrow can be suppressed by medications, chemotherapy, infection or radiation. Thalassemia is a condition in which there are many immature red blood cells but not enough mature red blood cells. Thalassemia is a hereditary condition common to Mediterranean individuals, Africans, and Middle Eastern or South East Asian individuals. Lead can be toxic to the bone marrow as well so that not enough red blood cells get made.

Symptoms of anemia include weakness, fatigue, sleepiness, pale skin, shortness of breath and rapid heart rate or tachycardia. Some individuals have no obvious symptoms at all, especially if the anemia is mild.

Treatment of anemia involves treating the underlying disease through vitamin or mineral replacement and giving blood transfusions when necessary. Some anemias can be cured considerably while others can only be managed over time.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here