What is anemia?September 8th, 2010
What is anemia? Generally, having anemia or being 'anemic' is a deficiency of red blood cells. Below you'll find a few definitions of "anemia" from well respected resources:
Wikipedia - What Is Anemia?
Anemia (pronounced /əˈnee'miə/, and can be spelled anaemia and anæmia; from Ancient Greek ἀναιμία anaimia, meaning lack of blood) is a decrease in normal number of red blood cells (RBCs) or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. However, it can include decreased oxygen-binding ability of each hemoglobin molecule due to deformity or lack in numerical development as in some other types of hemoglobin deficiency.
Because hemoglobin (found inside RBCs) normally carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues, anemia leads to hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in organs. Because all human cells depend on oxygen for survival, varying degrees of anemia can have a wide range of clinical consequences.
Anemia is the most common disorder of the blood. There are several kinds of anemia, produced by a variety of underlying causes. Anemia can be classified in a variety of ways, based on the morphology of RBCs, underlying etiologic mechanisms, and discernible clinical spectra, to mention a few. The three main classes of anemia include excessive blood loss (acutely such as a hemorrhage or chronically through low-volume loss), excessive blood cell destruction (hemolysis) or deficient red blood cell production (ineffective hematopoiesis).
There are two major approaches: the "kinetic" approach which involves evaluating production, destruction and loss, and the "morphologic" approach which groups anemia by red blood cell size. The morphologic approach uses a quickly available and cheap lab test as its starting point (the MCV). On the other hand, focusing early on the question of production may allow the clinician to more rapidly expose cases where multiple causes of anemia coexist.
eHealthMD - What Is Anemia?
Anemia is a condition where there is an abnormally low number of red blood cells circulating in the body. It is the most common disorder of the red blood cells, affecting about 3.5 million Americans.
Anemia is not a disease. It is a condition that results from below-normal levels of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Hemoglobin is the iron-containing pigment of the red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
There are many different kinds of anemia, each with its own cause. For example, a poor diet can cause anemia. The more severe types of this condition are often inherited.
wiseGEEK - What Is Anemia?
Anemia refers to a red blood cell count that is below normal. While white blood cells fight infection, red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. When red blood cell levels drop too low, the body feels tired due to lack of oxygen. Hence, someone with anemia is often referred to as having “tired blood.”
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