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What is Anemia?

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Risk Factors for Acute Anemia


Anemia can be both a symptom and a disease, with many root causes. Anemia is when there is a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin, that reduces the body's circulation of oxygen. The effects of anemia can vary greatly in severity, ranging from simple fatigue to complete cardiovascular failure. Common symptoms include:

  • Rapid heart rate and breathing

  • Pale and/or cold skin

  • Fatigue, sometimes accompanied by dizziness and/or loss of consciousness (fainting or passing out)

These are common basic symptoms of mild or early stage anemia, More severe cases of certain forms of anemia can cause stroke, cardiovascular failure, birth defects, premature births, and sometimes severe developmental problems for small children.

The exact physical requirements to diagnose anemia are debatable, but generally M.Ds base their diagnosis on hemoglobin levels. Hemoglobin is an iron-based component of red blood cells that transports oxygen through the blood stream. Doctors measure hemoglobin levels of suspected anemia patients using a simple blood test, known as a complete blood count (CBC) or blood panel. Currently, the medical profession defines clinical Anemia as being:

  • less than 13 g/dl for a male adult
  • less than 12 g/dl in an adult woman.

The current hemoglobin level given for anemia in children over 24 months old, as defined in CDC research, is anything less than 11 g/dl for both genders; under 24 months old the anemia line is set at 11.1 g/dl. With children, this is more inexact average calculation, due to varying growth and maturity rates.


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