Anemia is a condition wherein there is a decrease in hemoglobin (red coloring and oxygen carrier of the blood) per unit volume of blood below the established normal level for a certain age and sex.
The World Health Organization description for anemia is below 12 gm Hb/dl of blood for women and below 14 gm Hb/dl for men; and a hematocrit below 34%.
- Iron deficiency-nutritional anemia
- Loss of blood-hemorrhagic anemia
- Deficiency of Vitamin B12 or folic acid-pernicious anemia
Having greater risk of developing anemia are those with increased iron requirement such as:
- Frequent blood donor
- A woman having one pregnancy after another
- A woman with heavy menstrual bleeding
Note: Infections must be treated as these can easily depress blood formation.
- Easy fatigability
- Pallor (Paleness)
- Breathing difficulty on exertion
- “Deadtired” feeling
- Thin and brittle fingernails
Note: The diagnosis of anemia is based on analysis of blood constituents.
Iron Deficiency Symptoms
- Effects on muscular work:
-reduced work tolerance
-reduced voluntary work
- Reduced physical fitness, weakness and fatigue
- Reduced resistance to cold, inability to regulate body temperature
- Reduced resistance to infection (lowered immunity)
- Itchy skin
- Pale nailbeds, eye membranes, palm creases, concave nails
- Pica (clay eating, ice eating)
- Lactose intolerance and possibly intolerance to other sugars
- Impaired wound healing
- Increased risk of lead and cadmium poisoning
- Impaired cognitive function (children): reduced learning ability, impaired visual discrimination, increased distractibility (inability to pay attention)
- Impaired reactivity and coordination (infants)
Helpful Dietary Management
- Eat a high-protein diet with emphasis on other nutrients that aid red blood cell formation including iron, Vitamin C and B-complex vitamins.
- Provide supplementary foods which are iron-rich for infants as early as 4 to 6 months.
Reference: Healing Wonders of Diet Effective Guide to Diet Therapy p.62-63 © 2003 Philippine Publishing House ISBN 971-581-013-6