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What’s Anemia? Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

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In the human body, there must be a balance between all the nutrients for the function of the organs to be healthy. The deficiency of one element will lead to various consequences and diseases. Anemia occurs when you have not enough red blood cells in the arteries to carry oxygen to different parts of your body.

Anemia is measured in the amount of hemoglobin, which is the protein inside red blood cells, which carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues of the body. Women and people with chronic diseases such as cancer are at the highest risk for anemia.

Type of Anemia

  • Aplastic anemia
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Thalassemia
  • Vitamin deficiency anemia (specifically b12 or folate)

Aplastic anemia is a rare type of anemia and occurs when the body does not produce enough red blood cells. It also affects white blood cells that carry a high risk of infection and non-stop bleeding. Causes:

  • Cancer treatment methods (radiation therapy and chemotherapy)
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Some drugs (such as drugs for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Viral infections that affect bone density

Sickle cell disease is a serious disorder of the blood that causes sickle cell disease. Red blood cells become abnormal or smooth in this type of anemia. RBC contains abnormal hemoglobin, known as sickle cell hemoglobin, which causes abnormal shape. Sickle cells are sticky and can stop blood flow.

Thalassemia occurs when the body loses specific genes or inherited various abnormal genes from the parent that affects the way hemoglobin produces.

Vitamin deficiency anemia This type of anemia usually occurs due to folic acid deficiency (or B12 vitamin). These vitamins help the body keep its blood and nervous system healthy. In this type of anemia, the body produces red blood cells that cannot deliver oxygen well.

Iron deficiency anemia This type of anemia is one of the most common types of this disease.  Iron deficiency occurs when the body does not have enough iron.

Symptoms - What's Anemia? Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Symptoms of anemia

People with anemia have less oxygen in their blood, so the heart has to work harder to recoup the lack of oxygen. Heart-related symptoms include arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), shortness of breath, and chest pain. Some symptoms are:

  • Weakness and tiredness
  • dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Headache
  • cold hands and feet
  • Low body temperature
  • Chest pain, fast heartbeat, or shortness of breath
  • Brittle nails
  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia


How Is Anemia Treated?

The type of treatment depends on the severity of the anemia. It can treat with a blood transfusion, medication, or a bone marrow transplant.

1– Iron supplement

Commonly iron tablets are used to treat anemia caused by vitamin deficiency. It is best to use iron with food, especially orange juice, and foods rich in vitamin C.  Be careful not to take your iron tablets with calcium, tea, and coffee because they will prevent its absorption. Never use iron tablets without a doctor’s prescription. Excessive iron intake can be dangerous. Some people need folic acid and vitamin B12 in addition to iron tablets.

2- Medicine

Doctors usually prescribe drugs that help the body produce more red blood cells or treat the underlying cause of anemia.

  • In some cases, an erythropoietin (EPO) injection needs when anemia causes chronic kidney problems.
  • If an autoimmune problem causes the body to attack red blood cells, a corticosteroid like prednisolone can slow the attack and treat anemia.
  • In sickle cell anemia, anti-cancer medicine called hydroxyurea can reduce the number of painful attacks.

3- Blood Transfusion

If you have severe anemia, you may need a blood transfusion. When the body is unable to produce blood cells properly, this problem can solve with blood transfusions. Blood transfusions or bone marrow help the body produce healthy blood. If the blood cells destroy quickly, the blood plasma will need to be treated, or the spleen will be removed surgically.

iron - What's Anemia? Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

How Can Prevention of Anemia?

Now, you are familiar with different types of anemia, and to properly prevent this disease, you can use foods rich in iron and vitamin B12 in your daily diet. You can prevent anemia with a proper diet.

Iron-rich foods include red meat, liver, fish, lentils, beans, dates, dark leafy vegetables, and dried fruits.

Eating foods rich in vitamin B12 and folic acids, such as eggs and dairy products, spinach, and bananas, can help prevent iron deficiency. Many kinds of bread contain the essential nutrients of iron, B12, and folic acid.

Vitamin C in citrus fruits and other fruits and vegetables helps absorb iron. Citric acid and ascorbic acid or vitamin C in plums, melons, rhubarb, mangoes, pears, cantaloupe, cauliflower, vegetables, orange juice, sweet lemon, sour lemon, apple, and pineapple can increase the absorption of iron in the body. Malic acid and tartaric acid in carrots, potatoes, beets, squash, tomatoes, kale, and turnips also increase iron absorption. Fermented products such as soy sauce are included in this category.

Also, read: Dried fruits and Iron

How much iron do you need?

Group Age (years) Iron (mg) per day
Infants 0-3 months

4-6 months

7-12 months




Children 1-3 years

4-6 years

7-10 years




Adolescents 11-18 years 14.8(girls)

11.3 (boys)

Adults 19-50 years

19-50 years

50+ years

8.7 (males)

14.8 (females)




Dates are rich in iron. Eating 15 grams a day can provide the body’s requirements and treat anemia or iron deficiency complications. Also, this fruit is rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins. You can substitute dates for sugar and jam, for example, one wet date has 20 calories, and a dried date has 15 calories, which can provide your daily energy. You can add Iranian dates as a natural iron supplement to your diet.

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