Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues.
Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying protein inside red blood cells. It gives red blood cells their red color. People with anemia do not have enough hemoglobin.
The cause depends on the type of anemia. Possible causes include:
Possible symptoms include:
Some types of anemia may have other symptoms, such as:
The doctor will perform a physical examination, and may find:
Some types of anemia may cause other findings on a physical exam.
The following blood tests are used to diagnose anemia:
Other tests may be done to identify medical problems that can cause anemia.
Treatment should be directed at the cause of the anemia, and may include:
The outlook depends on the cause.
Severe anemia can cause low oxygen levels in vital organs such as the heart, and can lead to a heart attack.
Call your health provider if you have any symptoms of anemia, or any unusual bleeding.
Antony AC. Megaloblastic anemias. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 170.
Zuckerman KS. Approach to the anemias. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 162.
Review Date: 4/5/2009
Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc
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