Anemia

  • Medical Author:
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Author: Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH
    Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH

    Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What causes anemia?

Any process that can disrupt the normal life span of a red blood cell may cause anemia. Normal life span of a red blood cell is typically around 120 days. Red blood cells are made in the bone marrow.

Anemia is caused essentially through two basic pathways. Anemia is caused by either:

  1. a decrease in production of red blood cells or hemoglobin, or
  2. an increase in loss or destruction of red blood cells.

A more common classification of anemia (low hemoglobin) is based on the Mean Corposcular Volume (MCV) which signifies the average volume of individual red blood cells.

  1. If the MCV is low (less than 80), the anemia is categorized as microcytic anemia (low cell volume).
  2. If the MCV is in the normal range (80-100), it is called a normocytic anemia (normal cell volume).
  3. If the MCV is high, then it is called a macrocytic anemia (large cell volume).

Looking at each of the components of a complete blood count (CBC), especially the MCV, a physician can gather clues as to what could be the most common reason for anemia in each patient. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 7/16/2015
References
REFERENCE:

Maakaron, Joseph E, et al. "Anemia." eMedicine. 4 Nov. 2011. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/198475-overview>.

IMAGES:

1. iStock

2. Getty Images

3. Photolibrary.com

4. Bigstock

5. Getty Images/Rubberball

6. Bigstock

7. iStock/Bigstock

8. Bigstock

9. Wikipedia - Mikael Häggström

10. Bigstock

11. iStock

12. Bigstock

13. iStock

14. Bigstock

15. Getty Images/Blend Images

Blood and Bleeding Disorders Quiz

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Anemia - Symptoms

    For anemia, what were the symptoms and signs you experienced?

    Post View 38 Comments
  • Anemia - Treatments

    How was your anemia treated?

    Post View 25 Comments
  • Anemia - Levels

    What did you do to get your hemoglobin levels up?

    Post View 6 Comments
  • Anemia - Diet

    What dietary changes did you make after being diagnosed with anemia? Did the changes help your condition?

    Post View 1 Comment

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors