What Are the Effects of Anemia?

Anemia is a condition that results when a person doesn’t have enough red blood cells.
Anemia can cause fatigue, headaches, pale skin, and other symptoms.
A person with severe anemia may need a blood transfusion.
People with chronic anemia may take iron supplements to help control their symptoms.
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  • Written By: A. Gabrenas
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Anemia is a condition that results when people don’t have enough red blood cells. There can be many effects of anemia, ranging from mild, short-term symptoms like fatigue and pale skin, to longer-term, more severe complications such as heart failure. While the effects of anemia can be very serious, they can often be successfully treated in most people.

There are several possible causes of anemia. For some, it may be caused by blood loss due to surgery or, in women, heavy menstrual periods. It may also be caused by a lack of good sources of iron and other nutrients in the diet, such as in people with eating disorders or those who follow strict diets that eliminate certain whole food groups. Some diseases can also cause the body to not make enough red blood cells, or to kill too many, which can cause anemia.

In general, the effects of anemia usually relate to how low the level of red blood cells gets in the body, rather than the exact cause of the anemia. When red blood cells are just below normal levels in a mild case of anemia, there may actually be no visible effects. The lower red blood cell levels get, however, the more pronounced the effects of anemia may become. These may include feeling fatigued, short of breath, dizzy or confused. A person may also showcase pale skin and cold extremities, and suffer from headaches and chest pain.

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When the amount of red blood cells gets very low or low levels go untreated for a long time, the effects of anemia can be severe. For example, anemia can sometimes lead to an irregular heartbeat, called an arrhythmia, which can damage the heart muscle over time. In severe cases, this can lead to heart failure and other organ damage, which can sometimes be fatal. It may also make other health conditions a person has worse, which may lead to a variety of complications.

Treatments are often recommended to help resolve the effects of anemia and prevent long-term damage to the body. The exact treatment used typically depends on the cause of the anemia. For example, in cases of dietary deficiencies, supplements and dietary modifications may be recommended. If the anemia is being caused by loss of blood, health-care providers will usually take steps to help stop the blood loss. Other treatments may include blood transfusions, hormone supplements and other medications to treat any comorbid health problems that may be contributing to the low red blood cell level.

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Discuss this Article

anon947202
Post 9

What are the effects of anemia on pregnancy?

anon356081
Post 8

I am a laboratory technologist. I believe these people can live like other people because of some evidence I have found. Sometimes, a Vitamin B12 deficiency, if not treated can cause some effects of anaemia. Also, a person must eat a lot of food that has iron.

anon306347
Post 7

I am 13 years old and I am a sports freak. I love sports, especially netball and badminton. However, I was told I was anemic by the doctors because I was constantly getting muscle pain (cramps). I couldn't breathe properly and it has gotten worse. Also, I got weaker, more tired and depressed. Am I at risk of heart failure, or possibly dying?

anon280290
Post 6

i just did a blood check up and my blood gD/L is so low. The doctor said the normal for a female is about 11.5-12.5 gD/L but mine is 5.8gD/L. Is it really a chronic anemia?

anon226996
Post 5

I have been told by the doctor recently that I have anemia, however I have not been told to take supplements or change anything I am doing. I therefore assumed that the anemia was a mild case and nothing to worry about. However, I am constantly tired, irritable, dizzy and generally feeling low. I also have an eating disorder, but I have tried to eat things such as broccoli which is high in iron but it seems to have made no difference.

Will supplements make a difference or does it have to be iron from different sources such as meat as well?

Help!

Oceana
Post 4

I have sickle cell anemia, and my red blood cells cannot carry oxygen effectively throughout my body. The cells are shaped like crescents, making them stick together. My doctor diagnosed me with it by looking at my blood under a microscope and seeing the sickle-shaped cells.

Among the effects of sickle cell anemia that I experience are abdominal pain, fever, frequent urination, and thirst. Sometimes, my very bones seem to ache.

I have to take folic acid supplements daily to help my body produce red blood cells. I also take hydroxyurea and painkillers. Sometimes, I get bacterial infections and need antibiotics. I get blood transfusions now and then to prevent a stroke.

lighth0se33
Post 3

Anemia put me off the basketball team in high school. I got so weak that I could not throw the ball even halfway to the goal from the middle of the court. The school nurse recommended that I get tested for anemia.

My mom took me to my doctor, who drew blood from my arm. This made me so weak that I passed out for a minute. He said I was very anemic, and he gave me iron-rich supplements right away. He also gave me a list of foods to eat.

Some of them were yucky, like kale and collard greens, but many of them I liked to eat. Shrimp, raisins, peanuts, green beans, and eggs were my favorites on the list.

Perdido
Post 2

I developed anemia because of extremely heavy menstrual flow. I would bleed so much that I barely had the strength to stand. When I did stand up after sitting for awhile, I became very lightheaded and felt as thought I might pass out.

My doctor tested my blood by pricking my finger. When he got the results, he told me that since my red blood cell count was so low, less oxygen was available to be delivered to my muscles. This meant that I did not have the capacity to move around much at all.

I have to take iron supplements during my period. I start taking them a few days before I expect it to arrive, and I continue taking them for about three days after it is over. During the rest of the month, I rely on food sources for my iron.

orangey03
Post 1

When I was twelve, my doctor told my mother I was anemic. I complained of being tired all the time, and I often felt dizzy. I was born with naturally pale skin, so I don’t know if that was part of the anemia or just me, but I definitely felt like something was wrong inside. Twelve-year-olds usually have plenty of energy, and I was worn out.

The doctor gave me a liquid iron supplement to take. It tasted so bad that it made me vomit just to take it, so I changed my eating habits instead. My mom found out that beef, chicken, turkey, shellfish, broccoli, lima beans, pinto beans, iron-enriched white bread and cereals are all great sources of iron. Since my diet had consisted mostly of chocolate and potato chips, I hadn’t been getting enough. The new food made all the difference, and I didn’t have to take that yucky supplement

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