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What Causes Anemia?


Causes of Anemia

The number one cause of anemia is low levels of iron in the body. It is a type of iron-deficiency anemia. The human body depends on a certain amount of iron to make hemoglobin, a substance that circulates oxygen around your body.

 Other types of iron-deficiency anemia are caused by:

  • Diets that lack vitamin B12, or you cannot use or absorb Vitamin B12 (like pernicious anemia).
  • Diets that lack folic acid, also known as folate, or your body cannot use folic acid properly (like folate-deficiency anemia).
  • Inherited blood disorders (like sickle cell anemia or thalassemia).
  • Health conditions which cause the rapid break down of red blood cells (such as hemolytic anemia).
  • Chronic conditions that cause your body to have less hormones for the creation of red blood cells. They include hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, advanced kidney disease, lupus as well as other long-term diseases.
  • Losing blood due to other conditions like hemorrhoids, gastritis or ulcers.

What causes iron-deficiency anemia?

The reasons you may have iron-deficiency anemia include:

  • Bleeding from either so much quick blood loss from an incident like a serious accident or losing little amounts of blood in a long period of time. When you lose blood, you lose more iron than food can replace. This is very typical with women who menstruate or people who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Eating a diet that does not nourish you with enough iron.
  • Being in need of more iron than you did previously, for example, during pregnancy or illness.

Certain types of iron-deficiency anemia are known by other names linked to the cause. For example, anemia of chronic disease that is also termed acute blood loss anemia or anemia of inflammation.

What causes types of anemia that are not iron-deficiency anemia?

Pernicious anemia

This type is caused by lack of something called intrinsic factor. It’s what lets the body absorb vitamin B12. A body with no vitamin B12, cannot develop healthy red blood cells. Types of anemia with no B vitamins like B9 (folic acid) often also get lumped in as pernicious anemia.

Hemolytic anemia

Hemolytic anemia can be caused by inherited (genetic) or acquired diseases, causing the body to make deformed red blood cells which die off too quickly.

Sickle cell anemia

This is a genetic form of anemia that occurs because the shape of the red blood cells is faulty. Their appearance is sickle-shaped, which makes them clog the blood vessels, causing damage.

Aplastic anemia

This type of anemia also called bone marrow aplasia (failure), is caused by damaged bone marrow that cannot make adequate red blood cells. It can also be genetic or acquired. Some people mistake this condition for cancer.

Fanconi anemia

This is a rare and genetic type of anemia that happens due to the bone marrow being unable to make enough red blood cells. The condition has physical signs like abnormal bone structure and abnormal skin color.

Diamond-Blackfan anemia

This type of blood disorder is rare and may be inherited or acquired. This type of anemia, does not allow the bone marrow to make enough red blood cells.

Mediterranean anemia

Also called Cooley’s anemia, this condition is actually beta thalassemia major. Thalassemias refer to inherited conditions in which your body fails to make enough hemoglobin.

Vegetarian or vegan anemia

This anemia refers to the idea that vegetarians or vegans find it hard to get enough iron since they don’t eat meat, poultry or seafood. However, with careful food planning, this anemia is handled with success.

The best way to diagnose anemia in most cases is to have infants tested early on.

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