Anemia is a blood disorder in which there is a lack of red blood cells or hemoglobin, which may result from blood loss, insufficient red blood cell production, or destruction of red blood cells. Anemia may be caused by a poor diet, medications, genetic conditions, chronic illnesses, or kidney disease.
Patients with anemia may experience symptoms like fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, and/or a pale complexion. It can also lead to serious medical complications, including a heart attack.
Dry or damaged skin, brittle nails, and a swollen tongue may indicate more serious signs of anemia as well, as these symptoms generally point to an oxygen shortage in the body.
To accurately determine if a patient is anemic, our doctors will first examine the medical and family history of the patient for any abnormal patterns or signs. Following a physical exam, the patient will also undergo a complete blood count (CBC) test. This test measures the levels of red blood cells in your blood stream, and the hemoglobin in your blood.
Additional tests may be run to determine the size and shape of your red blood cells. In certain cases, it may be necessary to study a sample of bone marrow from the patient.
Treatments vary depending upon the cause of anemia, and may include prescriptions, supplements, or blood transfusions. Talk to your USDH physician to find out what treatment makes the most sense for you.