Anemia is a substandard amount of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is the protein contained in red blood cells. There
are some 20 or more types and causes of anemia. If you have anemia it is hopeless to try to treat yourself. An accurate
diagnosis is absolutely necessary and to have that a qualified doctor must be found to take a thorough history, do a physical
exam and order the proper blood tests.
The types of anemias are as follows: aplastic, iron deficiency, macrocytic (this only tells you that your red blood cells —
RBCs — are too large), sideroblastic, and nutrient deficiency: B12, folate, copper, deficiency, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin E,
selenium, and protein. Other causes of anemia can be lead or aluminum toxicity, pica (the dirt eating syndrome), celiac
disease, sickle cell disease. Red blood cell growth factors are the following: B12, folate, glutathione peroxidase, vitamins A,
C, and E, copper, erythropoietin, selenium, and amino acids.
Conditions which should be considered when anemia is encountered are the following:
- Liver disease
- Cytotoxic drugs: AZT, arsenic, chlordane, benzene, canthaxanthin
- Marrow replacement
- Acute or chronic blood loss
- Poor nutritional response of marrow
- Aplastic anemia
- Sideroblastic anemia
- Multiple drug toxicity
- Long term use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, e.g. Naprosyn, Tylenol, aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.)
- Occult cancer
- Excessive menstrual blood loss
- Previous gastric surgery
- Pernicious anemia
- Hemolytic anemia
Also, there is sports anemia. This can include real anemia and pseudoanemia due to dilutional factors in the athlete in training. The
real anemia is related to blood loss from micro-traumas throughout the body, especially in sports involving repetitive
pounding action such as football, basketball, track, or anything involving running. Of course, any of the other anemias can
occur in the athlete.
This is not meant to be a complete discussion of a very complex subject. The point is precisely that the subject is extremely
complex and if you have anemia you should have a thorough medical workup.