According to me, the most common health threat a women faces in her life time is Anemia.
It can due to many reasons.
But if I have to classify, I would rate anemia as the first serious women health threat out of ten.
Anemia is defined as a low number of red blood cells.
In a routine blood test, anemia is reported as a low hemoglobin or hematocrit.
Hemoglobin is the main protein in your red blood cells.
It carries oxygen, and delivers it throughout your body.
If you have anemia, your hemoglobin level will be low too.
If it is low enough, your tissues or organs may not get enough oxygen.
Symptoms Of Anemia:
Usually the symptoms of anemia are mild which a women may not be noticing at the beginning.
The major symptoms of anemias are
- Fast or unusual heartbeat
- Pain, including in your bones, chest, belly, and joints
- Problems with growth, for children and teens
- Shortness of breath
- Skin that’s pale or yellow
- Cold hands and feet
- Tiredness or weakness
Causes of Anemia:
They are classified into 3 categories, they are
- Anemia caused by blood loss
- Anemia caused by decreased or faulty red blood cell production
- Anemia caused by destruction of red blood cells
Risk factors for Anemia:
- A diet lacking in certain vitamins and minerals. A diet consistently low in iron, vitamin B-12 and folate increases your risk of anemia.
- Pregnancy. If you’re pregnant and aren’t taking a multivitamin with folic acid and iron, you’re at an increased risk of anemia.
- Intestinal disorders. Having an intestinal disorder that affects the absorption of nutrients in your small intestine — such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease — puts you at risk of anemia.
- Menstruation. In general, women who haven’t had menopause have a greater risk of iron deficiency anemia than do men and postmenopausal women. Menstruation causes the loss of red blood cells.
- Family history. If your family has a history of an inherited anemia, such as sickle cell anemia, you also might be at increased risk of the condition.
- Chronic conditions. If you have cancer, kidney failure, diabetes or another chronic condition, you could be at risk of anemia of chronic disease. These conditions can lead to a shortage of red blood cells.Slow, chronic blood loss from an ulcer or other source within your body can deplete your body’s store of iron, leading to iron deficiency anemia.
- Age. People over age 65 are at increased risk of anemia.
- Other factors. A history of certain infections, blood diseases and autoimmune disorders increases your risk of anemia. Alcoholism, exposure to toxic chemicals, and the use of some medications can affect red blood cell production and lead to anemia.
Types of Anemia:
- Iron deficiency anemia. This most common type of anemia is caused by a shortage of iron in your body. Your bone marrow needs iron to make hemoglobin. Without adequate iron, your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin for red blood cells.Without iron supplementation, this type of anemia occurs in many pregnant women. It is also caused by blood loss, such as from heavy menstrual bleeding, an ulcer, cancer and regular use of some over-the-counter pain relievers, especially aspirin, which can cause inflammation of the stomach lining resulting in blood loss.
- Vitamin deficiency anemia. Besides iron, your body needs folate and vitamin B-12 to produce enough healthy red blood cells. A diet lacking in these and other key nutrients can cause decreased red blood cell production.Also, some people who consume enough B-12 aren’t able to absorb the vitamin. This can lead to vitamin deficiency anemia, also known as pernicious anemia.
- Anemias associated with bone marrow disease. A variety of diseases, such as leukemia and myelofibrosis, can cause anemia by affecting blood production in your bone marrow. The effects of these types of cancer and cancer-like disorders vary from mild to life-threatening.
- Anemia of inflammation. Certain diseases — such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, Crohn’s disease and other acute or chronic inflammatory diseases — can interfere with the production of red blood cells.
- Sickle cell anemia. This inherited and sometimes serious condition is a hemolytic anemia. It’s caused by a defective form of hemoglobin that forces red blood cells to assume an abnormal crescent (sickle) shape. These irregular blood cells die prematurely, resulting in a chronic shortage of red blood cells.
- Aplastic anemia. This rare, life-threatening anemia occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells. Causes of aplastic anemia include infections, certain medicines, autoimmune diseases and exposure to toxic chemicals.
- Hemolytic anemias. This group of anemias develops when red blood cells are destroyed faster than bone marrow can replace them. Certain blood diseases increase red blood cell destruction. You can inherit a hemolytic anemia, or you can develop it later in life.
Prevention of Anemia:
- Iron. Iron-rich foods include beef and other meats, beans, lentils, iron-fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, and dried fruit.
- Folate. This nutrient, and its synthetic form folic acid, can be found in fruits and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables, green peas, kidney beans, peanuts, and enriched grain products, such as bread, cereal, pasta and rice.
- Vitamin B-12. Foods rich in vitamin B-12 include meat, dairy products, and fortified cereal and soy products.
- Vitamin C. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits and juices, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, melons and strawberries. These also help increase iron absorption.
Complications of Anemia:
- Severe fatigue. Severe anemia can make you so tired that you can’t complete everyday tasks.
- Pregnancy complications. Pregnant women with folate deficiency anemia may be more likely to have complications, such as premature birth.
- Heart problems. Anemia can lead to a rapid or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). When you’re anemic your heart must pump more blood to make up for the lack of oxygen in the blood. This can lead to an enlarged heart or heart failure.
- Death. Some inherited anemias, such as sickle cell anemia, can lead to life-threatening complications. Losing a lot of blood quickly results in acute, severe anemia and can be fatal.
Treatment for Anemia:
Iron-deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia that occurs when your blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells.
It’s the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world, and the World Health Organization states that this type of anemia largely contributes to more than 30 percent of the world’s population being anemic.
Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues and remove carbon dioxide. Not having enough working red blood cells may lead to tiredness and shortness of breath.
Iron-deficiency anemia usually develops over time as your body taps into the iron it has stored, then eventually runs out.
Low iron may be caused by an inadequate diet that lacks iron-rich foods. The following foods are high in iron:
- Dried fruits
- Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and chard
- Iron-fortified foods, such as breads and cereals
Eating or drinking foods and drinks high in vitamin C, such as orange juice, broccoli, peppers, and more, can help your body absorb iron when you eat it.
Anemia of Chronic Inflammation or Disease
Anemia of chronic disease is also sometimes called anemia of chronic inflammation or anemia of inflammation.
Anemia of inflammation and chronic disease is considered the second most common form of anemia after iron-deficiency anemia.
Inflammatory diseases Conditions that produce an inflammatory response in the body can cause anemia of chronic disease for several reasons:
- The inflammatory response can produce cytokines, a protein that protects the body against infection and interferes with iron processing and red blood cell production.
- Inflammation can cause internal bleeding that leads to a decrease in red blood cell count.
- Inflammation of the gastrointestinal system can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb iron from food.
Types of inflammatory disease known to cause anemia of chronic disease include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Degenerative joint disease
Infectious diseases People who have infectious diseases can wind up with anemia of chronic disease if their immune system’s response to the infection interferes with red blood cell production.
As with inflammatory diseases, infectious diseases can cause the immune system to release cytokines, which can interfere with the body’s ability to use iron to create red blood cells. Cytokines also can block the production and function of erythropoietin, a hormone produced by the kidneys that prompts a person’s bone marrow to produce red blood cells.
Infectious diseases known to lead to anemia of chronic disease include:
- Endocarditis (heart infection)
- Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
Kidney failure People with kidney disease can develop anemia of chronic disease if the disease interferes with the kidneys’ production of erythropoietin. Diseased kidneys also can cause the body to absorb less iron and folate, nutrients necessary to the creation of red blood cells.
People with kidney failure also might experience iron deficiency as a result of blood loss that occurs during hemodialysis.
Certain types of cancer can prompt the release of inflammatory cytokines, which interfere with erythropoietin production and creation of red blood cells by the bone marrow. These cancers include:
- Hodgkin disease
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
Cancer also can harm red blood cell production if it invades the bone marrow. Moreover, cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can lead to anemia of chronic disease if they damage the bone marrow.
Pernicious anemia occurs when your body lacks vitamin B12, which is needed to make healthy red blood cells and to keep the nervous system working properly.
If a women have pernicious anemia, your body can’t absorb enough vitamin B12 from food because it lacks a protein in the stomach called intrinsic factor. If you lack intrinsic factor, there is nothing you can do to prevent pernicious anemia caused by this.
Pernicious anemia can run in families, so having family members with the condition puts you at risk.
In rare cases, pernicious anemia occurs simply because you’re not eating enough B12. In these cases, eating foods high in B12 can help the condition. Such foods include:
- Beef, liver, poultry, and fish
- Eggs and dairy products
- Soy-based drinks and veggie burgers
- Breakfast cereals with added vitamin B12
B12 deficiency can also be caused by other factors and conditions, such as infections, surgery, medicines, and diet, and in these cases, it may also be referred to as pernicious anemia.
Diseases such as Crohn’s and celiac can also interfere with B12 absorption.