There are seven different types of anemia. These all have different causes, as well as different treatments. Gaining an understanding of the anemia types and causes gives you a greater ability to recognize it in people and ensure proper treatment is delivered.
Understanding the Anemia Types and Causes:
1. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. It can be caused by chronic blood loss, increased iron usage, and decreased iron absorption. It is characterized by:
– Fast heartbeat
– Shortness of breath
– Inflamed, shiny, smooth tongue (glossitis)
– Angular stomatitis
Treatment involves taking prescription strength iron supplements and making lifestyle changes to increase dietary iron. In severe cases, intravenous iron may be prescribed. Young people, adults with internal bleeding, and women are at the greatest risk of developing this type of anemia.
2. Aplastic anemia is caused by a disorder of the bone marrow, which doesn't produce sufficient red blood cells. It is one of the rarest anemia types and causes, and incredibly serious, particularly because it affects the heart. It usually has a sudden onset but it is slow to develop and will get worse unless treated. The direct cause is unknown in over 50% of cases, although risk factors such as exposure to toxins, radiation, medication, and infectious diseases play a part. The symptoms are similar to those of iron deficiency anemia. Treatment involves medication, stem cell and bone marrow transplants, and blood transfusions. Fortunately, a cure is often found for this condition.
3. Hemolytic anemia, where red blood cells are destroyed too quickly. This can lead to a range of health conditions. There are many subtypes of this particular type of anemia, including acquired and inherited ones. A well-known form of hemolytic anemia is sickle cell anemia. Fatigue is the most common symptom of this kind of anemia. Treatment includes cell transplants, surgery, medication, blood transfusions, and lifestyle changes. There is no cure, but the condition can be managed.
4. Thalassemias, which are inherited blood disorders where insufficient hemoglobin is produced. There are two types (alpha and beta). It affects men and women, mainly of Mediterranean descent. It is a lifelong condition for which there is no cure. It is generally an inherited disease. Symptoms include fatigue, delayed puberty, and symptoms common in all forms of anemia. Treatment includes folic acid supplementation, iron chelation therapy, and blood transfusions.
5. Sickle cell anemia, which is a type of hemolytic anemia that has now been classified as a unique form of anemia. This is an inherited condition that is usually diagnosed several months after birth. In this condition, the red blood cells are shaped like a sickle rather than a disc, making it hard for them to travel through the bloodstream. They often clump together, resulting into blockages in the flow of blood to the different organs. The sickle red blood cells also don't live as long as healthy red blood cells, and this is what causes the anemia. There is currently no permanent cure for the disease, although bone marrow transplants have been successful in some people. Treatment is usually down to improving quality of life and reducing the chance of complications.