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General Information
Factors Affecting Red Blood Cell (RBC) Count
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Sideroblastic Anemia
Anemia of Chronic Disease
Fanconi Anemia (FA)
Sickle Cell Anemia

General Information

There are a number of iron disorders, the most common of which is anemia. Anemia comes in several forms and these forms are produced by a variety of underlying causes. The most common, and most severe type of anemia, is iron-deficiency Anemia (IDA). Just as the name implies, this form of Anemia arises due to insufficient iron in your body.

In the United States, 20 percent of all women of childbearing age have iron-deficiency anemia, compared with only 2 percent of adult men. The principal cause of iron-deficiency Anemia in pre-menopausal women (which includes us college women) is blood lost when we get our menstrual period.

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Factors Affecting Red Blood Cell (RBC) Count
The monthly blood loss that occurs during menstruation causes the body to need increased iron. Women who experience heavy bleeding should pay special attention to their iron intake.

Since the average American women's diet does not reach the RDA for iron, dieting and decreasing food intake will make it even more difficult to reach the recommended RDA for iron.

Pregnant women are at an increased risk for developing anemia, because the iron stores are depleted more rapidly due to the higher blood volume and demands of the fetus and placenta.

Vegetarians and people who do not consume red meat are more apt to be iron deficient. Meat sources of iron, also called heme-iron, such as pork, beef and lamb are among the richest sources of iron. Heme-sources of iron are the best absorbed and utilized by the body. Non-heme sources, such as the iron in beans, grains and vegetables, are not well absorbed by the body.

The capacity of the body to absorb iron from the diet is a crucial factor for developing iron stores and maintaining functional iron. When the body has trouble absorbing iron from foods or when iron is lost through cellular break down, iron deficiency Anemia is likely to occur.

There are many consequences associated with Anemia and because it is a blood-related illness these consequences can become serious with time. Severe Anemia may cause a condition called high-output heart failure, where the heart must work harder to provide enough oxygen to the brain and other internal organs. There can be additional complications when Anemia is coupled with other heart diseases so you should consult your doctor if this applies to you. [ To Top ]

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Anemia is a process, not a disease, and it is the most common disorder of the blood. Anemia occurs when the amount of red blood cells or hemoglobin (an oxygen-carrying protein in the blood) decrease in number, causing the tissues of the body to be deprived of oxygen-rich blood.

The blood of a person who suffers from Anemia (she is said to be anemic) has trouble carrying oxygen to tissues and organs, and in a sense, becomes "starved" of oxygen. Without this oxygen we cannot produce enough energy to function. So, in order for the body to stay healthy, organs and tissues need a steady supply of oxygen.

Iron is particularly important for women from ages 11-50, nursing mothers and pregnant women.

Depending on their age women need different amounts of iron. The Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) for [1]:

  • postmenopausal women is 10 milligrams
  • women of childbearing age (11-50 years) and nursing mothers is 15 milligrams
  • pregnant women, 30 milligrams

Contrary to popular opinion, there are actually a number of reasons the can lead us to be iron deficient. A multitude of national nutrition surveys report that as many as 90 percent of women do not consume enough iron.

Even diets we consider to be balanced may not supply ample iron for those of us who are menstruating, dieting, pregnant, vegetarian, as well as women who have an innate trouble absorbing iron from their foods. [ To Top ]

Sideroblastic Anemia

Sideroblastic Anemia is an enzyme disorder in which the body has enough iron but is unable to incorporate it into hemoglobin. Sideroblasts that cause this condition are visible with microscopic examination of bone marrow. Anemia results because these sideroblasts can develop poorly or not at all into the mature red cells we need to stay healthy.

Sideroblastic Anemia (SA) is a complicated disorder and therefore difficult to treat. Often SA acts like iron deficiency Anemia (IDA), but unlike IDA, iron tests are normal or increased with SA.

Three categories of sideroblastic Anemia are: hereditary, acquired or idiopathic.[2] [ To Top ]

Anemia of Chronic Disease

Anemia of Chronic Disease (ACD) is a condition of impaired iron utilization. ACD is seen in a wide range of diseases. Supplementation with iron for those with ACD can be harmful and even result in death.[2] [ To Top ]

Fanconi Anemia (FA)

This is is one of the inherited anemias that leads to bone marrow failure (aplastic anemia). If both parents carry a defect in the same FA gene, each of their children has a 25% chance of inheriting the defective gene from both parents. When this happens, the child will have FA.

FA occurs equally in males and females and is found to be equally prevalent in all ethnic groups. Though FA is described as a blood disease, it may affect many parts of the body. Many patients eventually develop acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Older patients are extremely likely to develop head and neck, gynecological, and/or gastrointestinal cancer. Patients who have had a successful bone marrow transplant and, thus, are cured of the blood problem associated with FA still must have regular examinations to watch for signs of cancer. Many patients do not reach adulthood. FA treatment includes the administering of certain hormones that stimulate the production of red blood cells. This treatment may be effective for some, but it usually fails after several years. Other possible treatments include bone marrow transplants and gene therapy.[3] [ To Top ]

Sickle Cell Anemia

This type of Anemia is an inherited blood disorder, characterized primarily by chronic Anemia and periodic episodes of pain. In sickle cell anemia, the hemoglobin is defective. After the hemoglobin molecules give up their oxygen, some of them may cluster together and form long, rod-like structures. These structures cause the red blood cells to become stiff and to assume a sickle shape. In sickle cell anemia, the hemoglobin is defective. After the hemoglobin molecules give up their oxygen, some of them may cluster together and form long, rod-like structures. These structures cause the red blood cells to become stiff and to assume a sickle shape. The deformed red blood cells then cause blockages, preventing the oxygen-rich blood from reach their target destinations, starving the organs of oxygen.

Sickle cell Anemia is caused by an error in the gene that tells the body how to make hemoglobin. The defective gene tells the body to make the abnormal hemoglobin that results in deformed red blood cells.

In the United States, this disease affects approximately 72,000 people, most of whose ancestors come from Africa.

Although there is no cure for sickle cell anemia, doctors can do a great deal to help sickle cell patients, and treatment is constantly being improved. Doctors administer pain medications to suffering patients and blood transfusions are also common forms of treatment.[4] [ To Top ]






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