Anaemia: Signs, symptoms and treatment« Back to Articles
means an inadequate amount of oxygen is able to circulate. Anaemia tends to start off mild and symptoms are hardly noticeable. But over time, the condition is likely to worsen and symptoms will become more prominent.
There are several different types of anaemia, and the causes behind each one will vary. Sometimes anaemia can be a long term or recurrent problem, or it may be very temporary. It may also present itself as very mild or very severe, and can point to a more serious underlying illness.
What causes anaemia?
Anaemia can be brought on by a number of factors. These include:
- Blood loss. This may be because of an injury, or in women it can be due to very heavy periods. Piles, peptic ulcers and bleeding in the bowels are also common culprits.
- The body isn’t making enough healthy red blood cells. This could be because of iron deficiency, a lack of certain nutrients, or depleted reserves of iron, folate or vitamin B12. Certain conditions that affect the bone marrow, like leukaemia, can also mean healthy blood cell production is lower than it should be.
- The body is breaking down red blood cells too quickly. This is known as haemolytic anaemia.
Types of anaemia
There are five different types of anaemia to be aware of:
- Aplastic anaemia
- Vitamin deficiency anaemia
- Sickle cell anaemia
- Iron deficiency anaemia
The symptoms of anaemia largely depend on the cause. Anaemia that is caused by a chronic disease can often be masked by the disease symptoms making it more difficult to spot.
Where symptoms of anaemia are apparent they typically include:
- Skin that is pale or yellowish in colour
- Shortness of breath
- An irregular heartbeat or palpitations
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Cold feet and hands
- Chest pain
Treatment for anaemia is dependent on its severity and whether there’s a chronic underlying condition behind it.
If the patient has a known health condition that may be causing anaemia, they will need to be treated for it. Some patients may be experience anaemia because of certain other medications they’re already taking; if this is the case, they may need to stop taking them and find an alternative. For some patients, anaemia can be alleviated by a change of diet, or taking certain nutritional supplements such as iron, folate or vitamin B12 tablets. In extreme cases, individuals may require a blood transfusion, surgery to remove the spleen, corticosteroids, a stem cell transplant or immunosuppressive therapy. Erythropoietin stimulating agents (ESAs) can also encourage the bone marrow to function more effectively in making more red blood cells.
Understanding blood tests, results and blood conditions
Are you a healthcare professional based in a clinic, school, surgery or similar? Then our course An introduction to basic haematology and biochemistry investigations could well be for you. Giving students a solid foundation in the basics of blood testing and results, this one-day course is worth 8 hours of CPD. It’s completely held online too (perfect for those looking to learn in the comfort of their own home) while still being fully flexible and interactive.
Alternatively, those searching for more advanced courses in this area might also want to take a look at PDUK’s Advanced interpretation of blood results in clinical practice. It essentially builds on the fundamentals of interpreting blood test results and is ideal for those who already have a firm grasp of the basics.
Spread over two days the course adds up to 14 hours of CPD. Again it's held online via Zoom, making it a great chance to network and learn remotely.
All course material and evaluations will be provided whichever course you choose. But they’re also very popular so make sure you sign up soon!