Anemia signs and symptoms vary depending on the cause. If the anemia is caused by a chronic disease, the disease can mask them, so that the anemia might be detected by tests for another condition. Depending on the causes of your anemia, you might have no symptoms. Signs and symptoms, if they do occur, might include: Fatigue Weakness Pale or yellowish skin Irregular heartbeats Shortness of breath Dizziness or lightheadedness Chest pain Cold hands and feet Headaches At first, anemia can be so mild that you don't notice it. But symptoms worsen as anemia worsens. When to see a doctor Make an appointment with your doctor if you're feeling fatigued and you don't know why. Fatigue has many causes besides anemia, so don't assume that if you're tired you must be anemic. Some people learn that their hemoglobin is low, which indicates anemia, when they donate blood. If you're told that you can't donate because of low hemoglobin, make an appointment with your doctor. Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic Causes Anemia occurs when your blood doesn't have enough red blood cells. This can happen if: Your body doesn't make enough red blood cells Bleeding causes you to lose red blood cells more quickly than they can be replaced Your body destroys red blood cells What red blood cells do Your body makes three types of blood cells — white blood cells to fight infection, platelets to help your blood clot and red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin — an iron-rich protein that gives blood its red color. Hemoglobin enables red blood cells to carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body and to carry carbon dioxide from other parts of the body to your lungs to be exhaled. Most blood cells, including red blood cells, are produced regularly in your bone marrow — a spongy material found within the cavities of many of your large bones. To produce hemoglobin and red blood cells, your body needs iron, vitamin B-12, folate and other nutrients from the foods you eat. Causes of anemia Different types of anemia have different causes. They include: Iron deficiency anemia. This most common type of anemia is caused by a shortage of iron in your body. Your bone marrow needs iron to make hemoglobin. Without adequate iron, your body can't produce enough hemoglobin for red blood cells. Without iron supplementation, this type of anemia occurs in many pregnant women. It is also caused by blood loss, such as from heavy menstrual bleeding, an ulcer, cancer and regular use of some over-the-counter pain relievers, especially aspirin, which can cause inflammation of the stomach lining resulting in blood loss. Vitamin deficiency anemia. Besides iron, your body needs folate and vitamin B-12 to produce enough healthy red blood cells. A diet lacking in these and other key nutrients can cause decreased red blood cell production. Also, some people who consume enough B-12 aren't able to absorb the vitamin. This can lead to vitamin deficiency anemia, also known as pernicious anemia. Anemia of inflammation. Certain diseases — such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, Crohn's disease and other acute or chronic inflammatory diseases — can interfere with the production of red blood cells. Aplastic anemia. This rare, life-threatening anemia occurs when your body doesn't produce enough red blood cells. Causes of aplastic anemia include infections, certain medicines, autoimmune diseases and exposure to toxic chemicals. Anemias associated with bone marrow disease. A variety of diseases, such as leukemia and myelofibrosis, can cause anemia by affecting blood production in your bone marrow. The effects of these types of cancer and cancer-like disorders vary from mild to life-threatening. Hemolytic anemias. This group of anemias develops when red blood cells are destroyed faster than bone marrow can replace them. Certain blood diseases increase red blood cell destruction. You can inherit a hemolytic anemia, or you can develop it later in life. Sickle cell anemia. This inherited and sometimes serious condition is a hemolytic anemia. It's caused by a defective form of hemoglobin that forces red blood cells to assume an abnormal crescent (sickle) shape. These irregular blood cells die prematurely, resulting in a chronic shortage of red blood cells.
Symptoms of anemia

Symptoms of anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body's tissues. Having anemia can make you feel tired and weak. There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe. See your doctor if you suspect that you have anemia. It can be a warning sign of serious illness.

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