National Blood Week: All About Anaemia

National Blood Week: All About Anaemia

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One of the most common blood-related conditions our private doctors see is anaemia. There are various different types of this condition, with an even longer list of causes (which may require investigation). Our doctors at LDC are highly experienced in diagnosing and investigating anaemia, offering some of the best value private blood tests in London, as well as treating the condition. 

 

Giving Blood 

Do you give blood? Or have you ever received a blood transfusion?

Blood donation is one of the most precious gifts people can give. You never know when you might need a blood transfusion yourself - whether it be after an accident, operation or chronic condition like anaemia (which has failed to respond to other treatments). Should such a situation ever arise, fingers crossed enough selfless volunteers of your blood type have recently given blood. The only way to ensure this, is to pay it forward and join the blood donating community if you can.

 

As Give Blood says: "By giving blood, every donor helps us meet the challenge of providing life-saving products whenever and wherever they are needed."

 

What Is Anaemia?

In our bodies, red blood cells are one of the main components that make up our blood. These cells contain haemoglobin, which is an iron-containing protein that gives blood its red colour and carries oxygen around the body to all our tissues.

Anaemia is a condition that results in insufficient transport of oxygen due to a problem with the red blood cells or haemoglobin. There could be less red blood cells than normal or a lack of haemoglobin, in which case there are different causes for each of the defects.

 

Anaemia Symptoms

Some general symptoms of anemia include:

  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Pale complexion
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing during exercise
  • Palpitations

 

Depending on the cause, other symptoms may include:

  • Brittle on curved shaped nails
  • Black or blood in your stool
  • Jaundice (yellow colouring of the skin or eyes)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of sense of touch or ‘pins and needles’

 

If you have mild anaemia, then you may only experience a few symptoms - such as tiredness, fatigue or a pale complexion. The more symptoms you have, the more severe the condition is. The only way to determine if you have the condition is by getting a blood test. 

 

Anaemia Causes

Iron-deficiency anaemia

This is the most common causes of anaemia. There are various reasons why someone might be iron-deficient:

  • Due to heavy menstrual periods every month
  • Poor absorption of iron can be caused by diseases of the gut (these include coeliac disease or Crohn’s disease)
  • Poor or restricted diet such as vegetarianism may cause this type of anaemia
  • Pregnancy may also be a cause of iron-deficiency anaemia

If you have been diagnosed with iron-deficiency anaemia, the treatment can include taking iron supplements or eating a diet rich in iron-containing foods such as red meat, green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, or other alternatives such as beans, nuts and whole-grains.

 

Other Types of Anaemia

While an iron deficiency is the most common type of anaemia, the condition can also be caused be various other factors:

  • A lack of certain vitamins such as vitamin B12 or Folic acid
    • Vitamin B12 is stored for a long time in the body, so a deficiency is uncommon, although it can happen with vegetarianism (like iron-deficiency anaemia)
    • Folic acid isn’t stored and therefore your body needs a constant supply
    • Decreased absorption can also be due to Crohn’s or coeliac disease
       
  • Genetic conditions, including:
    • Sickle cell anaemia which primarily affects those of African-American descent
    • Thalassaemia can also cause anaemia due to irregularly shaped red blood cells
       
  • Problems that involve your bone marrow
    • These can affect the synthesis of red blood cells, although this is uncommon
       
  • An underlying medical condition
    • Such as chronic kidney disease. These should be which should be discussed with your doctor

 

anaemia-blood-cells

Anaemia is a condition that results in insufficient transport of oxygen due to a problem with the red blood cells or haemoglobin

  

Diagnosing Anaemia

Your doctor will take some blood from you to analyse your red blood cell levels along with various other parameters. This can identify if you are anaemic but may not rule out the cause. Unless there is a clear cause of the anaemia (like pregnancy or dietary reasons such as vegetarianism) then more tests may have to be carried out. Some causes are more serious than others and it’s important to get to the underlying reason. Treatment for anaemia is therefore dependent on the cause, which your doctor will discuss with you.

 

So, if you're experiencing any of the above symptoms, or are at all concerned about anaemia, why not book to see one of our experienced private GPs, for private blood testing, diagnosis and treatment? We have nine GP surgeries across central London - all of which have future and same day doctor appointments available. As always, if you need to find a GP, LDC is here for you. 

 By Sophia O'Halloran

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