By Dr. Lata Bhat (Senior Consultant), Pediatrics
When the blood does not have enough hemoglobin 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. The 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
- Hemolytic 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
- 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 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 an 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, the reason is Iron Deficiency. Parents should start weaning food at six months preferably a food like a banana shake. Fruits and vegetables should be taken regularly. Jaggery and peanuts are also excellent sources of Iron.