Anemia is a lower than normal red blood cell count. It’s common at any age and as you get older it becomes even more common. Many of us don’t understand anemia, mostly because it can be related to many different health conditions. Anemia can be related to a chronic health condition or it can be a life threatening emergency.
Some of the symptoms of anemia can include:
- Paleness, most noticeably inside the lower eyelids
- Fatigue and weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Lower blood pressure. This is more common if your anemia is caused by blood loss.
Anemia is caused by something that is causing you to lose red blood cells or it is caused by something that is making it difficult for you to produce red blood cells. If you have a problem producing red blood cells, causes can be:
- Chemotherapy or medications which affect the bone marrow cells. These are responsible for making your red blood cells.
- An iron deficiency. This is more often the cause of anemia, especially for those who are vegan or don’t each much meat. It can also be due to chronic blood loss because of a bleeding ulcer or heavy periods in younger women.
- Vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin B12 and folate are necessary to form red blood cells.
- Chronic inflammation. Many chronic illnesses cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation appears to interfere with the making of red blood cells.
For those who have problems losing red blood cells, injury and trauma are the most likely causes. Besides obvious bleeding, internal bleeding can also be the cause and it is hard to detect. Others who are hospitalized may lose blood through daily blood draws, resulting in a lower red blood cell count. If you suspect you or a loved one has anemia, see your healthcare provider. Anemia is very common in older adults and can be a result of a variety of causes. To read the full article on anemia and a list of questions to ask your doctor, click here.