Anemia is a shortage of red blood cells in the blood. It is also possible that the red blood cells do not work properly, because they contain not enough hemoglobin. In both cases, less oxygen can be transported. This allows the tissues and organs to function insufficiently and a person can get various symptoms.


Red blood cells contain hemoglobin. The hemoglobin absorbs oxygen in the lungs and transports it through the blood circulation to the tissues and organs. This provides the whole body with enough oxygen. Iron is neccesary for the construction of hemoglobin. If a person has a shortage of iron, he or she cannot produce hemoglobin. This results in anemia. One can get an iron shortage as a result of extreme blood loss (due to injury, surgery, childbirth or heavy menstruation) or poor diet. An iron shortage also occurs when the body cannot absorb iron from food.
Other causes of anemia are:


The following signs and symptoms may occur in case of anemia:


The diagnosis of anemia can be made on the basis of the story of the patient and by blood tests. A blood test can fairly easily determine whether or not a person has hemoglobin shortage. When it turns out to be too low, the doctor will order additional investigation to identify the cause of the anemia. Several additional examinations can be done.


The treatment of anemia depends on the cause:


The most common forms of anemia, such as iron or vitamin shortage, are treatable and recovery will usually take no longer than six months. However, the prognosis is dependent on the underlying cause of the anemia, the severity and the general health of the patient.