By Dr Lata Bhat , Pediatrics
When the blood does not have enough haemoglobin, or healthy red blood cells, it develops into a condition called anemia. In India, most of the anemia is due to iron deficiency i.e. poor iron in the diet. Second important reason is thalassemia.
The causes of anemia include:
- Blood loss
- Poor production of red blood cells
- Damage to the red blood cells
There are various types of anemia:
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Vitamin deficiency anemia
- Chronic disease induced anemia
- Aplastic anemia (not enough production of red blood cells)
- Bone marrow disease-related anemia
- Haemolytic anemia (destroyed red blood cells)
- Sickle cell anemia (causes the red blood cell to take a crescent shape)
- Other rare anemia (thalassemia and malarial anemia)
When a patient has anemia, they have fatigue and loss of energy, headache getting sick frequently. Some other symptoms include-
- Pale skin
- Irregular or fast heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Difficulty in breathing
Treatment of anemia depends on the type. Some treatments include-
- Iron supplements: if you have iron deficiency anemia
- Vitamin B12 supplements: if you have vitamin deficiency anemia
- Blood transfusions: if you have aplastic anemia
- Bone marrow transplant or chemotherapy: for bone marrow disorder related anemia
If you have anemia, your diet should comprise of the following foods-
- Red meat
- Peanut butter
- Soy beans
- Whole grain bread
All pregnant women are more prone to iron deficiency in anemia because the iron requirement in a woman is double than the iron requirement in a man i.e. 2mg per kg per day. Whereas in man, it is 1mg per kg per day. It is because women have loss of blood regular periods in every month; they bear babies. As a routine, all babies are iron deficient. So, they must be given 3 mg per kg per day for 2-months. All preadolescent girls must be given iron supplement for 100 days.
Given pregnancy-post-partum i.e., after delivery. All ladies must receive iron supplementation. Food rich in Iron, e.g., green leafy, vegetables, bananas, mangoes, preferably food should be cooked in iron utensils.
For children-Too, much consumption of milk, especially in small children is very important, reason is Iron Deficiency. Parents should start weaning food at six months preferably a food like banana shake. Fruits and vegetables should be taken regularly. Jaggery and peanuts are also excellent sources of Iron.