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Anemia

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  • November 25, 2005
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Anemia is not considerate to be a specific disease; it is a manifestation of
many abnormal conditions. Some of the abnormal conditions that causes

anemia include dietary deficiencies of iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid; hereditary disorders; bone marrow damaged by toxins, radiation, or chemotherapy; renal disease; malignancy; chronic infection; overactive spleen; or bleeding from a tract or organ. The incidence of anemia in the world is very high. More than 50% of the world suffers from anemia. Anemia is characterized by a deficiency in red blood cells or in the concentration of hemoglobin (iron-containing portions of red blood cells). These deficiencies are caused by either decreased production or increased destruction of red blood cells. Anemia is most common among women in their reproductive years (5.8 percent), infants (5.7 percent), and the elderly (12 percent). Because one of the major functions of red blood cells is to transport oxygen, a decrease in red blood cells decreases the amount of oxygen delivered to the body's tissues, which results in the symptoms of anemia.

Anemia can be defined as a decrease in the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood caused by low hemoglobin concentration (A Practical Guide, 1). Cells in the body require oxygen to fully utilize fuels. The oxygen is transported from the lungs to tissues throughout the body via red blood cells. Oxygen binds to hemoglobin, a specific molecule within each red blood cell. This molecule consists of heme, which is a red pigment, and globin, which is a protein. If the amount of functioning hemoglobin is reduced, a condition known as anemia arises (Anemia, 1). The anemia that may result can take many forms, including that caused by a low iron level (iron deficiency anemia), a vitamin deficiency (megaloblastic anemia), a thyroid deficiency, the premature destruction of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia), replacement of normal bone marrow cells by cancer cells or...