Anemia is a condition in which your blood has a lower than normal number of red blood cells. Anemia also can occur if your red blood cells don’t contain enough hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the iron-rich protein that gives blood its red color. This protein helps red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
If you have anemia, your body doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood. As a result, you may feel tired or weak. You also may have other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, or headaches.
Severe or long-lasting anemia can damage your heart, brain, and other organs in your body. Very severe anemia may even cause death.
- Fatigue (feeling tired or weak)
- Shortness of breath
- Coldness in the hands and feet
- Pale skin
- Chest pain
The goal of treating anemia is to increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. This is done by increasing the red blood cell count and/or hemoglobin level as close as possible to normal levels. An additional goal is to treat the underlying condition or cause of the anemia.
The treatment your doctor prescribes will depend on the type, cause, and severity of the anemia you have. Treatment may include dietary supplements, changes in diet, medicines, and/or medical procedures such as blood transfusions or surgery.
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