What is anemia and how does it manifest itself?
Anemia is a decrease of red blood cells in the body, which are a protein called hemoglobin that serves to transport oxygen to the tissues of the body; we breathe but above all our tissues are the ones that breathe. It is very important to keep in mind that the diagnosis of anemia is not a diagnosis but anemia is a symptom and its cause must be found and treated.
Symptoms of anemia
Anemia manifests itself in many different ways. There are cases that are really obvious, for example, a patient who receives a polytraumatism for any reason, a car accident, a traffic accident, etc… and loses a lot of blood, then that is an acute anemia, but in the vast majority of cases anemia is established very slowly. Many times the person who has anemia does not even realize that he or she has anemia, suffers from headaches, tiredness, it is difficult to get up in the morning, fatigue, and since anemia in most cases is established over time, the body itself has the virtue of adapting to this lack of hemoglobin, to this lack of oxygen. To give us all an idea of how anemia behaves from the clinical point of view, the vast majority of patients who are treated for anemia simply cannot believe how their quality of life has changed, their capacity to carry out their daily functions, etc… because they thought that what was happening to them was simply a factor related to aging, to time and to other diseases.
What are the possible causes of anemia?
In most cases the cause of anemia is really very difficult to detect. For example, in young women the most frequent cause of anemia is very prolonged menstruation, due to the bleeding, which results in the loss of iron and therefore the possibility of making hemoglobin. In older people, in adulthood, the most frequent cause is intestinal bleeding, which is often the first symptom of a gastrointestinal disease that is not really benign but malignant, such as colon cancer.
There is a group of patients with anemia in whom detecting the cause is really very difficult, in a way it is a Sherlock Holmes type of investigation, and they range from cases of thyroid insufficiency, cases of absolutely inadequate diets, cases even of people who run (now it is called running before it was called running) and who can bleed small amounts along the digestive tract etc… Therefore, the investigation of the causes of anemia requires a high degree of expertise and of course to have at hand a series of supplementary measures, of supplementary analyses, that can allow us to say what is the cause of anemia.
What are the consequences of anemia for the body?
A decrease in hemoglobin (which transports oxygen from the outside to the various tissues of the human body) is what defines anemia. The human body needs oxygen to function and when oxygen is not provided or does not arrive in sufficient quantities automatically what can occur are alterations of the organic functions some of major importance. For example, heart failure, neurological disorders, respiratory disorders, etc… Let me insist, in any case, that in the vast majority of cases, anemia of chronic onset is also accepted by the body and there are a series of correction and adaptation mechanisms by which the patient does not realize that he or she is anemic. A story that is very often told is that on many occasions the individual or the person who diagnoses anemia in a given patient is the typical relative who has not seen the person affected by anemia for months, for weeks, for a long time, and when he sees him, he says: “hey, you look bad, you look paler, what’s wrong? etc…”. This indicates that anemia can develop very very slowly, that people who are really in contact with the patient do not even notice that the person is developing anemia, but nevertheless a person who has a more external, more sporadic, clearer vision, so to speak, can detect it.
In summary, anemia can have important manifestations at the cardiovascular, neurological, respiratory level, etc… but in many, if not most cases, anemia does not give symptoms in the sense of discomfort that the person with anemia can detect and manifest.
What is the most appropriate treatment for anemia?
Since anemia has multiple causes, there is no single all-purpose treatment for all causes of anemia. In other words, treating anemia with pills containing an infinite number of pharmacological compounds does not make any sense, and it does not make any sense because it can mask the cause of the anemia. The treatment of anemia has to be a personalized treatment, nowadays we talk about personalized medicine, it has to take into account the origin of the anemia and depending on the origin give the most appropriate treatment in each case that can range from simply correcting too abundant periods, administering iron, correcting an intestinal disorder, to really more complex therapies if the anemia is the manifestation of a failure of bone marrow function.