Blood is a body fluid and a medium which nutrients are delivered to tissues and organs in the body. An adult human body has more than 5 litres of blood,
Frequently Asked Questions
- Red blood cells– Haemoglobin is an iron protein that transports O2 from the lungs and tissues. They are produced in bone marrow. Having a low number of these cells are known as Anaemia.
- White blood cells – These are cells in the immune system, and are made in the bone marrow from the stem cells. Having a low number of these cells, are known as Leukopenia.
- Platelets –Help with the process of blood clotting. These are not cells, but fragments of bone marrow cells. Having a low number of these are known as Thrombocytopenia.
Anemia is caused by;
- Decreased red blood cell reproduction.
- Excessive blood loss.
- Increased red blood cell destruction
Risk factors involved;
- Iron deficiency anaemia- Low iron levels are associated with low red blood cell production. Gastrointestinal bleeding is also common in iron deficiency anaemia. Vegetarians are associated with anaemia because of their lack of protein intake from example red meat, as to their leafy greens and legumes that they eat.
- Vitamin B12 and Folate deficiency anaemia – A lack of these decrease the production and function of red blood cells, and thus leads to anaemia.
- Folate deficiency –The body’s folate storage should be replenished or the symptoms will appear.
- Caused by high alcohol intake, inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease are due to lack of folate in the body.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency– Is rare in people who eat meat and plant based foods. Vegetarians, alcohol consumption, gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease reduces B12 in the body in the long term.
- Anaemia of chronic disease – It’s an adaptive response that develops with inflammation and mimics iron deficiency, by cells of the immune system which destroy pathogens and cellular debris. It’s associated with chronic, inflammatory diseases like cancer, autoimmune diseases, chronic microbial infections, and chronic kidney disease.
- Anaemia due to blood loss – It’s a direct cause of anaemia, caused during surgery or excessive blood flow during a woman menstruating. This is also common in cancer patients due to lack of iron.
- Aplastic Anaemia – A rare condition where all different blood cells are reduced. Bone marrow disorder when healthy cells are attacked by the immune system. This is caused by toxin exposure, chemotherapy, hepatitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Sickle cell anaemia and thalassemia - Is the malfunction of red blood cells. Caused by genetic mutation in the haemoglobin gene, cause red blood cells to be unstable and unable to transport O2 to the body. Thalassemia is formation of abnormal haemoglobin, which causes excessive red blood cell destruction. Major risk factor is family history.
- Haemolytic anaemia - Caused by excessive red blood cell destruction, caused by oxidative stress or an overactive spleen
Leukopenia is caused by;
- Caused by increased risk of bacterial and fungal infections.
- Most common causes are recent infection, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and HIV, some medications, and antibiotics.
- It’s a side effect with anti-cancer drugs, as well as an enlarged spleen can be the cause of Leukopenia.
Ricks factors involved;
- This is from drug induced therapy, and anti-bacterial drugs associated with lower neutrophil counts and the induction of aplastic anaemia
Thrombocytopenia is caused by;
- Condition caused by reduced platelets or thrombocytes.
Rick factors involved;
- It’s more common in ageing populations due to their immune systems that are not as strong anymore.
- This can be drug induced by those that suppress the production of bone marrow cells.
- Drugs that could cause this is heparin, quinine, vancomycin and a few others which negatively impact the platelet numbers.
- Reduced platelet formation could also be caused from alcoholism, Deficiency of B12 and folate, aplastic anaemia, leukaemia, and chemotherapy, as well as an enlarged spleen.
Iron deficiency anaemia
Signs and symptoms; Fatigue, pale skin, weakness, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness or light headedness, cold hands and feet, irritability, tongue inflammation, brittle nails, increased heartbeat, poor appetite
Diagnosis; Anaemia can be tested through haemoglobin, and red blood cell count tests. Via the blood tests it can identify iron deficiency. Another indicator is the serum ferritin level, when the iron stores in the body are low, ferritin serves as a sensitive marker for iron deficiency.
Anaemia of chronic disease(ACD)
Signs and symptoms; Symptoms are from underlying causes of chronic diseases. Haemoglobin and transferrin levels are low, in ACD this occurs due to iron that’s been sequestered out of the blood.
Diagnosis; Serum Ferritin levels are used to differentiate between these diseases, as this serum is generally reduced when someone has iron deficiency anaemia, but not in ACD.
Vitamin deficiency anaemia
Signs and symptoms; Weight loss, diarrhoea, muscle weakness, mental confusion and forgetfulness.
Diagnosis; Folate deficiency causes a type of anaemia where red blood cells are enlarged, because of abnormal DNA synthesis – result in abnormal erythrocyte development.
Sickle cell anaemia
Signs and symptoms; Pain especially in the back and hips, fatigue, reduced exercise tolerance, and jaundice.
Diagnosis; Haemoglobin electrophoresis lab test can evaluate the structure of the haemoglobin in a blood sample.
Signs and symptoms; Symptoms resemble anaemia, and severe symptoms present with jaundice, skin ulcers, abdominal fullness or discomfort.
Diagnosis; This resembles iron deficiency where the red blood cells appear smaller and lower in count, yet the iron levels are high.
Signs and symptoms; Multiple broken vessels just beneath the skin, scattered bruising, gastrointestinal or vaginal bleeding, excessive bleeding post-surgery – all due to impaired blood clotting
Diagnosis; Diagnosed with a platelet count of <50 000 per microliter of blood in a standard test.
The table below explains them:
Iron deficiency anaemia
Vitamin deficiency anaemia
Anaemia of chronic disease ACD
Sickle cell anaemia
- Testosterone plays a role in the making of red blood cells and the availability there of.
- Low testosterone – common with ageing men, and some woman, could be linked to anaemia.
- Blood tests can detect low testosterone levels, and help with hormone replacement therapy by a qualified doctor.
- Can be caused by oxidative stress
- Some blood disorders which need blood transfusions, have the risk of increasing the iron levels, and increasing the oxidative stress.
- Excess iron is also related to increased cardiovascular risk.
- Oxidation of “bad cholesterol” molecules formed by excess iron can contribute to atherosclerosis.
- Anti-hepcidin therapy – These therapies have an advantage over others by being very specific with less side effects
- peginesatide – Long acting mimetic drug, effective in anaemic patients with chronic kidney disease
- Sodium dimethylbutyrate – It’s been tested for its ability to stimulate foetal haemoglobin in sickle cell anaemia
- Gene Therapy – targets underlying disorders, consists of harvesting a patient’s own bone marrow, and transferring it back into the body.
- Iron and Vitamin B supplements are commonly used to treat anaemia.
- Taurine a derivative of the amino acid cysteine
- Vitamin D
- Zinc and copper
- Shark liver oil – Have been shown to help prevent the decrease of leukocytes and thrombocytes in patients undergoing radiation treatment.
- Chlorophyllin – Protects against toxin induced DNA damage.
- Astragalus – Herb used to boost white blood cell production.
- Active hexose correlated compound – Compound from the fungi family of shitake mushrooms that have immune-modulating properties, and are well tolerated by the human body.
- Melatonin – Hormone with a variety of health promoting benefits.
- Vitamin C and E
- Coenzyme Q10
- Blueberry extract
- Green tea extract
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Anaemia panel – complete blood count and profile
- Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy
- Male panel