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 are other causes of anemia?

Some of the most common causes include:

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause pernicious anemia. This type of anemia could happen in people who are unable to absorb vitamin B12 from their intestines due to a number of reasons.
    • Strict vegetarians are at risk if they do not take adequate vitamin supplements.
    • Long-term alcoholics.
    • People who have abnormal structure or function of the stomach or intestines leading to impaired B12 absorption despite adequate intake.
    • This typically causes macrocytic (large blood cell volume) anemia. Vitamin B12, along with folate, is involved in making the heme molecule that is an integral part of hemoglobin. Folate deficiency can be the culprit of anemia as well. This may also be caused by inadequate absorption, under-consumption of green, leafy vegetables, and also long-term heavy alcohol use.
  • There can be rupture or destruction of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia) due to antibodies clinging to the surface of the red cells. Examples of hemolytic anemia include hemolytic disease of the newborn, medication induced hemolytic anemia, transfusion related hemolysis, and autoimmune hemolytic anemia.
  • A wide assortment of bone marrow diseases can cause anemia.
    • For example, cancers that spread (metastasize) to the bone marrow, or cancers of the bone marrow (such as leukemia or multiple myeloma) can cause the bone marrow to inadequately produce red blood cells, resulting in anemia.
    • Certain chemotherapy for cancers can also cause damage to the bone marrow and decrease red blood cell production, resulting in anemia.
    • Certain infections may involve the bone marrow and result in bone marrow impairment and anemia.
    • Finally, patients with kidney failure may lack the hormone necessary to stimulate normal red blood cell production by the bone marrow.
    • Chronic alcohol consumption may lead to anemia via different pathways and thus, anemia is commonly seen in alcoholics.
  • Another common cause of anemia is called anemia of chronic disease. This could typically occur in individuals with longstanding chronic diseases.
  • Some medications can cause anemia in a variety of ways.
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) can cause anemia. 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 37 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