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Low Hemoglobin (Anemia)

Overview

A lack of red blood cells describes low hemoglobin (anemia). Anemia may be detected by a simple blood test when hemoglobin or hematocrit levels are low. Hemoglobin is a protein present in the RBCs. It transports and disperses oxygen throughout the body. Along with being the component that gives RBCs their color, hemoglobin is responsible for oxygen delivery throughout the body. Anemia is a condition characterized by low hemoglobin levels, which appears as fatigue and trouble breathing.

The hemoglobin level which is low indicates that you are anemic. The tissues and organs may be deprived of oxygen if it falls below a certain threshold. Since the organs are not getting the nutrients they need to function properly, the person may feel tired or short of breath if he/she has anemia.

Men’s normal hemoglobin levels range between 14.0-17.5 gm/dL; women’s normal hemoglobin levels range between 12.3-15.3 gm/dL.

The symptoms of low hemoglobin levels (anemia) may be so subtle that the person is unaware of having them. When the blood cell count falls below a specific level, symptoms often occur. Anemia may manifest itself in a variety of ways, depending on the underlying cause.

Vertigo symptoms are inclusive of:

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeats
  • Headache
  • Pain in bones, chest, abdomen, and joints
  • Growth problems in toddlers and adolescents
  • Pallid or yellow skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness
  • Tiredness

 

The number of RBCs in the blood, as well as the concentrations of hemoglobin and other blood components, are determined by a CBC test. After the CBC, the doctor will ask about the family and medical history. Other tests that may be performed for assessing the hemoglobin levels and other blood conditions include:

Blood smear: To count the blood cells, assess the form of the cells, and search for abnormal cells, this test is performed.

Reticulocyte count: It is performed to determine the presence of immature RBCs as they are also linked with low Hgb.

 

 

Causes

A somewhat low hemoglobin level is not necessarily indicative of disease; in certain cases, it may be considered normal. Low hemoglobin levels are more common in menstruating or pregnant women than in other women.

A low hemoglobin level may suggest the existence of a disease or illness that impairs the body’s ability to create enough RBCs. The causes include:

  • The body produces fewer RBCs than usual
  • The body destroys RBCs at a faster pace than they can be created
  • Blood loss

 

The following is a list of illnesses as well as conditions that may result in the body producing fewer RBCs than normal thus leading to low Hgb count.

  • Cancer
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Cirrhosis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Leukemia
  • Lead poisoning
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis 

 

It is possible that the bone marrow and stem cells are not working properly, stopping the body from making enough RBCs thus low Hgb. Some stem cells in the middle of the bones, called bone marrow, will grow and generate RBCs. Insufficient stem cells, reduced stem cell function, or stem cell replacement by other cells, such as cancer cells, may all lead to anemia in certain people.

Among the illnesses and conditions that cause the body to lose RBCs faster than they can be generated are the following:

  • Hemolysis
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Porphyria
  • Splenomegaly i.e. enlarged spleen
  • Thalassemia

 

Hemolytic anemia is a potentially deadly condition that occurs when RBCs are weak and unable to withstand the stress of passing through the body. The condition could be present from birth (congenital) or develop later in life.

Vascular grafts, prosthetic heart valves, malignancies, severe burns, exposure to certain chemicals, severe hypertension, or coagulation disorders may all induce clotting problems as well as reduction in hemoglobin levels.

The following are some of the diseases and situations that cause the body to lose RBCs quicker than it can produce them:

  • Internal bleeding in the digestive system, such as that caused by tumors, ulcers, or hemorrhoids
  • Regular blood donation
  • Menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding)
  • Even with the regular monthly flow, it is possible to have a slightly low hemoglobin level

When To See A Doctor

Consult your physician if you are suffering the signs as well as symptoms of low hemoglobin. The following are the signs or symptoms that need to be addressed:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin and gums
  • Breathing issues
  • Having a rapid or erratic pulse

 

If your doctor believes you have anemia, he or she may order a blood count test to determine this. If the test reveals that you have a low hemoglobin count, more testing will almost certainly be necessary to determine the cause of the low Hgb count.

 

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