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Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Anemia is the condition of having less than the normal number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. The oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is, therefore, decreased. Persons with anemia may feel tired and fatigue easily, appear pale, develop palpitations and become unusually short of breath. Children with chronic anemia are prone to infections and learning problems.
In general, anemia has four basic categories of causes. One or more of these causes must be operating to produce anemia:
Women are more likely than men to have anemia because of the loss of blood each month through menstruation. Iron deficiency anemia is common and in adults is most often due to chronic blood loss. This can be from menstruation or from small amounts of repeated bleeding (which can be very subtle) and in children is due mainly to not enough iron in the diet. Anemia is also often due to gastrointestinal bleeding caused by medications including, such very common drugs as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/26/2003
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