Health Conditions

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Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues.

Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying protein inside red blood cells. It gives red blood cells their red color. People with anemia do not have enough hemoglobin.

See also:

  • Anemia due to B12 deficiency
  • Anemia due to folate deficiency
  • Anemia due to iron deficiency
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Hemolytic anemia due to G-6-PD deficiency
  • Idiopathic aplastic anemia
  • Idiopathic autoimmune hemolytic anemia
  • Immune hemolytic anemia
  • Megaloblastic anemia
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Secondary aplastic anemia
  • Sickle cell anemia


The cause depends on the type of anemia. Possible causes include:

  • Certain medications
  • Diseases such as cancer or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Genes -- some forms of anemia can be inherited
  • Kidney failure
  • Blood loss (for example, from heavy menstrual periods)
  • Poor diet
  • Pregnancy
  • Problems with bone marrow (where blood cells are made)
  • Problems with the immune system that cause the destruction of blood cells
  • Surgery to the stomach or intestines that reduces the absorption of iron, vitamin B12, or folic acid


Possible symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or light-headedness (especially when standing up or with exertion)
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Headaches
  • Problems concentrating
  • Shortness of breath (especially during exercise)

Some types of anemia may have other symptoms, such as:

  • Constipation
  • Problems thinking
  • Tingling


Treatment should be directed at the cause of the anemia, and may include:

  • Blood transfusions
  • Corticosteroids or other medicines that suppress the immune system
  • Erythropoietin, a medicine that helps your bone marrow make more blood cells
  • Supplements of iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, or other vitamins and minerals


The outlook depends on the cause.