Anaemia Sign of Nutritional Deficiency to Cancer

By Dr. Balkrishna Padate in Nanavati Max Institute of Cancer Care

Apr 24 , 2023 | 3 min read

About Anaemia

As Anaemia worsens, patients experience faintness or dizziness, sweating, weak and rapid pulse, or fast breathing. Severe Anaemia may cause shortness of breath. Anaemia also causes heart-related symptoms because your heart has to work harder to carry oxygen-rich blood through your body. If Anaemia is left untreated, it can lead to problems with the heart and lungs.

Remember, similar symptoms may be caused by problems other than Anaemia. If you have any of these symptoms, consult a hematologist for advice.

There are many types of Anaemia, and they are linked to a variety of diseases and conditions. Some types of Anaemia are prevalent, and some are very rare. Some are very mild and have little or no impact on a person's life. Some are severe and can even be life-threatening if not treated aggressively. All Anaemias have one thing in common, though they all affect your overall health. The good news is that Anaemia often can be successfully treated or even prevented.

Causes of Anaemia

Anaemia occurs when your body makes too few RBCS, destroys too many RBCs, or loses too many RBCs. Many diseases, conditions, and other factors can cause this to happen.

Most fall into the following three groups

Reduced production of red blood cells and haemoglobin: This can happen if you don't have enough iron, vitamin B12 or folate in your diet, or have health problems like problems related to food pipe that stops the absorption of nutrients. The production of red blood cells may be abnormal because of poor bone marrow function itself like aplastic Anaemia or if bone marrow space is occupied by abnormal cells like cancer cells as in leukaemia. Patients with kidney problems also have reduced production of haemoglobin because of poor stimulation of the bone marrow.

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Bleeding: You can lose a lot of blood through an injury, an operation, a stomach ulcer, or if you have prolonged or heavy periods. A small amount of bleeding from the stomach or colon every day may not even be noticed by the patients. Bleeding from the bowel can be because of an underlying colon abnormality like colon cancer.

Rapid destruction of red blood cells: Certain medicines can destroy the cells prematurely and cause Anaemia, as can a number of inherited conditions such as sickle cell Anaemia and Thalassemia.

In the elderly population, a specific type of bone marrow abnormality is called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) where bone marrow is defective and produces abnormal blood cells. Majority of the time patients suffering from this condition present with Anaemia. This is a precancerous condition and treatments are available for this condition.

Diagnosis of Anaemia

A Haematologist is a specialist in diagnosing Anaemia and it's causes. You will be asked to have a blood test. Depending on the findings from the blood tests, treatments are oered to treat Anaemia as well as the underlying cause of Anaemia.

Eg. - Iron-Deficiency Anaemia

Iron plays an essential role in keeping you healthy. Your body needs iron to make haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells (RBCS) that carries oxygen. Most of the iron in your body is constantly recycled and reused for the production of blood. You need a regular source of iron to ensure that your body has enough to make the RBCS it needs. The main way you get iron is from food.

Iron-deficiency Anaemia is a condition in which your body can't match its need for iron. The common causes for this are nutritional deficiency of iron or loss of blood from food pipe.

Prevention of Anaemia

You can reduce your risk of developing Anaemia by eating a healthy, balanced diet. For most people, this will provide enough essential nutrients without the need to take supplements. Iron-rich food items are red meat, beetroot, dates, jaggery, and spinach.

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