Anaemia is a condition in which the red blood cell count in your blood gets low. The job of the red blood cells is to carry oxygen to different parts of your body. When there is a low red blood cell count, there are fewer cells to carry oxygen. A quick anaemia test can find out if there is some problem with your red blood cell count. When you know your appropriate blood count, treatment can be recommended accordingly. Often, iron depletion also causes anaemia so you can go for an iron test. There is a CBC test which is a comprehensive blood test that gives you multiple parameters. There is also a hemogram test that can reveal the condition of red blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit, platelet count and white blood cells. A phlebotomist takes your blood sample. The serum sample is then submitted to the lab for the appropriate anaemia tests.
Anaemia means an inappropriate quantity of red blood cells is being produced and something is destroying your existing red blood cells.
Red blood cells contain hemoglobin. This is an iron-rich protein that gives your blood its red color. Hemoglobin enables red blood cells to carry oxygen from your lungs to different parts of your body. They also carry carbon dioxide to the lungs so that it can be exhaled. If your red blood cell count is low, it means your body is not getting enough oxygen and it is not exhaling sufficient carbon dioxide.
If you don’t get an anaemia test at the right time, you can develop multiple health problems. In some cases, sickle cell anaemia can lead to blood cancer. Your quality of life can be severely deteriorated due to constant lack of energy and breathlessness. Your immunity goes down, and this attracts other diseases and ailments.
Anaemia can be caused by
A diet lacking in the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Intestinal disorders that stop your body from absorbing nutrients from the food that you eat.
Chronic conditions like kidney failure, diabetes, or cancer.
Exposure to toxic chemicals.
Excessive consumption of alcohol.
Excessive bleeding during periods.
Anaemia can be of different types, namely aplastic anaemia, iron deficiency anaemia, sickle cell anaemia, thalassaemia, and vitamin deficiency anaemia.
Symptoms of anaemia may include
Pale or yellowish skin.
Cold hands and feet.
Shortness of breath.
Dizziness or lightheadedness.
Anaemia can be triggered by the low production of red blood cells and the destruction of the existing red blood cells.
The following reasons can lower the production of red blood cells:
Iron deficiency, Vitamin B12 deficiency or Folate deficiency.
The body generally produces fewer red blood cells due to various factors.
The following factors can destroy the existing red blood cells:
Excessive bleeding during periods.
Bleeding during an accident.
Repeat blood donation.
How is the enemy a test performed?
The blood is drawn and submitted to the lab to see if the person has got anaemia. There can be a complete hemogram test that reveals a few parameters in case someone is suffering from anaemia. Here are the indications that tell that a person has anaemia:
RBC – typically low
Hemoglobin – low
Hematocrit – low
Frequently Asked Questions
How does excessive bleeding cause anaemia?
During excessive bleeding, there is lots of blood loss and hence, there is less blood to carry oxygen from the lungs and bring carbon dioxide back to the lungs. With the reduction of blood, the red blood cell count also goes down hence, triggering anaemia.
Can anaemia be life-threatening?
Sickle cell anaemia can be life-threatening because it can lead to severe complications. Chronic anaemia can diminish your immunity and you easily catch diseases. Blood clots can form and block your arteries, and this can lead to heart attack. Constant lack of oxygen weakens your body. Since the blood doesn’t collect enough carbon dioxide the levels of toxicity can increase and this can lead to fatal conditions.
Is an anaemia test necessary?
A blood test is the only way of finding if you have anaemia. There can be many reasons why you constantly feel tired, you feel breathless and nauseated and your skin appears pale. Going for an anaemia test confirms that you have a problem and then appropriate treatment can be started. If you don’t go for an anaemia test you may go on with your life despite all the problems and this may exacerbate the situation. As mentioned in the above section, anaemia can be fatal if it is not treated on time.
Can anaemia be cured with diet?
Although no food is a perfect treatment of anaemia because there are ailments that begin to manifest due to the lack of red blood cells caused by the deficiency. But, diet can certainly help. Take iron-rich foods such as leafy vegetables, lean meats, nuts and seeds and fortified breakfast cereals. It is essential that you eat foods that help your body absorb iron in the food. Anaemia can be caused if there is no Vitamin B12 in your diet, so you may include salmon, milk, yoghurt, eggs, chicken breast, rice and nutritional yeast. If you notice the symptoms or if your anaemia test reveals that you have anaemia, you can talk to a nutritionist to make sure that you consume a balanced diet.
What happens if I don’t take anaemia test despite the symptoms?
Anaemia, if left untreated, can cause serious health problems. All your organs need oxygen and if they don’t get oxygen, they begin to malfunction. Due to low hemoglobin during anaemia, enough red blood cells are not produced by your body and consequently, your vital organs don’t receive sufficient oxygen. Your heart needs to work harder. There is greater wear and tear. This can enlarge your heart and lead to heart failure. Among pregnant women, untreated anaemia can lead to miscarriage or premature birth. Hence, it is critical that in case there are symptoms, you probably get an anaemia test done from a competent lab.