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Are There Risk Factors for Anemia?

There are a lot of things that cause you to feel tired and weak; some are medical conditions, while others are lifestyle habits. One of the more common causes of fatigue is a blood disorder known as anemia. This disorder causes the tissues in your body to be deprived of oxygen, leading to multiple symptoms.

At Hunterdon Oncology and Hematology, our team specializes in many different types of blood disorders, including anemia. Our team is led by both board-certified oncologists and hematologists, who help you identify anemia and get you the treatment you need to feel yourself again.

What is anemia?

Anemia is a blood disorder caused by a low number of red blood cells, cells that carry oxygen to the tissues throughout your body. There are many different types of anemia, each with a different cause. However, a low red blood cell count is the main cause of this disorder. 

When our doctors test you for anemia, they’re looking at a certain blood test called a hemoglobin and hematocrit test. Hemoglobin is a protein within your red blood cells that carries oxygen to all of the tissues in your body. If your hemoglobin is low, it means your tissues aren’t getting a good supply of oxygen. Hematocrit measures cells in a volume of blood.

It’s hard to determine if anemia is the reason you’re feeling lousy; however, there are symptoms that usually come with this disorder, including:

The symptoms you experience depend on several factors, including the severity of your anemia, and how long you’ve had it. Sometimes with mild cases, you won’t experience any symptoms at all. 

Types of anemia

Although the symptoms of this condition are usually very similar, there are more than 400 different types of anemia. The type you hear about the most is due to a deficiency in iron. This type is detrimental to hemoglobin production. 

The different types are split up into three categories, which include anemia due to blood loss, anemia from the destruction of red blood cells, and anemia due to decreased red blood cell production. Some of the common types of anemia include:

Each different type of this disorder has a different cause, but the end result is oxygen deprivation to your tissues from decreased red blood cells.

Risk factors to be aware of

There are many different risk factors for anemia, and understanding them can help you avoid this problem in some cases. Women have a higher instance of anemia due to heavy menstrual cycles or during pregnancy. Certain diets and medical conditions also come with a higher risk of developing anemia. Some of these medical conditions include:

Anemia may also be a problem if you suffer from any type of inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis. Stomach ulcers also may lead to anemia, as well as prolonged use of medications like aspirin. 

Although just about anyone can develop anemia, there are certain groups of people who are at higher risk. As stated before, women are more likely to suffer from anemia due to bleeding during menstruation and childbirth. Others who are also at an increased risk include:

Of course, just because you fit into these categories doesn’t mean you’ll end up with anemia. However, if your risk is greater, it’s best to be followed regularly by one of our doctors to ensure early treatment, if necessary.

Treating your anemia

Treatment for anemia focuses on treating any underlying conditions that are causing your anemia. For example, if you have iron deficiency anemia, our team orders testing to see if you’re losing blood from somewhere. 

On the other hand, if your anemia is caused by a nutritional deficit, our doctors recommend changing your diet. If that doesn’t work, our team prescribes dietary supplements to give your body the nutrients it needs.

We offer many other treatments, including blood transfusions and a hormone called erythropoietin that helps your body produce more blood cells. Bone marrow transplants are another possibility if other options don’t work.

If you’re experiencing symptoms and are worried they’re due to anemia, call our office in Flemington, New Jersey at 908-788-6461 to make an appointment.

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