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Anemia is a medical condition where your blood has insufficient healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin(Hb) is the vital part of red blood cells that binds to oxygen. If there is a deficiency or abnormality of red blood cells or hemoglobin, there is a disruption in the oxygen supply throughout the body. Hemoglobin levels of < 13.5 gram/100 ml for men and < 12 gram/100 ml for women indicates anemia.

According to National Family Health Survey, more than half of the women in India (i.e., 55 %) are anemic wherein 39% of the women are mild anemic, 15 % are moderate anemic and 2 % with severe anemia.


Signs and Symptoms

A patient with anemia may exhibit one or more of these symptoms.

  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Unusually rapid heartbeat that increases with exercise
  • Shortness of breath and headache that increase with exercise
  • Difficulty to concentrate
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Leg cramps
  • Insomnia

In addition to the above symptoms, there are few specific symptoms associated with the specific type of anemia.

Iron deficiency anemia:

  • Pica: A condition where the patient has a craving for strange substances like paper, ice, dirt, etc.
  • Spoon-shaped nails or koilonychia
  • Mouth soreness with crack at the corners

Vitamin B12 deficiency (pernicious anemia) anemia:

  • Tingling, pins and needles sensation in the hands or feet
  • Loss of sense of touch
  • Wobbly gait and difficulty to walk.
  • Stiffness and clumsiness of the legs and arms
  • Dementia

Anemia caused due to chronic lead poisoning:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • A blue or black line on the gums called as lead line.

Anemia due to chronic red blood cells destruction:

  • Leg ulcers
  • Brown or red urine
  • Jaundice
  • Symptoms of gallstones
  • Reduced growth in infants

Sickle cell anemia:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased susceptibility to infection
  • Delayed growth and development in children
  • Severe pain in joints, abdomen, and limbs.

How to find out whether I have anemia?

If you have the symptoms of anemia, you must first go to a doctor. Your doctor would first do a physical examination and then would ask you to get a blood test.

The tests to diagnose anemia includes:

  • Complete blood count (CBC): This test helps in detecting anemia by chiefly measuring the number of red blood cells (RBC count), amount of hemoglobin present in the blood (Hb levels) and the percentage of red blood cells in blood(hematocrit).
Component Normal levels Interpretation
Red Blood Cell Males: 4.5-5.5 million RBCs per mcL

Females: 4.0-5.0 million RBCs per mcL

Decreased levels indicate anemia
Hemoglobin Males: 14-17.4 g/dL

Females: 12-16 g/dL

Decreased levels indicate anemia
Hematocrit Males: 42%-52%

Females: 36%-48%

Decreased levels indicate anemia


  • Blood iron level and serum ferritin level: This test is required for the diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia. It helps to measure if there is any iron deficiency in your body. The reference range for iron in blood is 55–160 µg/dL in men and 40–155 µg/dL in women.
  • Levels of vitamin B12 and folate: These tests helps in the diagnosis of megaloblastic anemia. The test results indicate whether your body has enough vitamins to produce normal red blood cells. Normal values of vitamin B12 for adults is 200 to 900 picograms per milliliter (pg/mL) whereas for folate it is 2-20 ng/mL.
  • Special blood tests: These blood tests are done to find out other rare causes of anemia such as an immunodeficiency disorder, fragility of red blood cells, defects of enzymes, hemoglobin and clotting.
  • Reticulocyte count, bilirubin and urine tests are useful to detect hemolytic anemia.
  • In rare cases, a doctor might do a bone marrow aspiration to check for bone marrow diseases that may cause anemia.

How to treat Anemia?

Medical and Surgical Interventions

Treatment varies according to the type of anemia:

  1. Treatment for Iron deficiency anemia: Iron supplements and dietary modifications are the mainstay of therapy. If the cause of iron deficiency is blood loss other than from menstruation, the source of bleeding is identified and blocked.
  2. Treatment for vitamin deficiency anemia: Treatment involves inclusion of vitamin and folic acid rich foods in the daily diet regime. If the patient is not able to absorb vitamin B-12 from the diet, then it is injected. The frequency and duration of the vitamin B-12 injections depend upon the patient’s condition.
  3. Treatment of anemia due to chronic disease: If anemia is caused due to any chronic disease, the physicians usually focus to treat the underlying disease condition. If the symptoms are severe, blood transfusion or synthetic erythropoietin is administered to stimulate the production of red blood cells.
  4. Treatment for Aplastic Anemia: Treatments of this type of anemia includes blood transfusions. Bone marrow transplant may be required if your bone marrow is diseased and cannot produce healthy blood cells.
  5. Hemolytic anemia: Management of hemolytic anemia includes immunosuppressant drugs that prevent the immune system from attacking the healthy red blood cells. Blood transfusions or plasmapheresis may also be necessary as per the patient’s condition. In few cases, surgical removal of the spleen is the option.
  6. Treatment for sickle cell anemia: The treatment for this includes the administration of oxygen, pain-relieving drugs, and oral or intravenous fluid to prevent any further complications. Also, blood transfusion, folic acid supplements and antibiotics are suggested. Hydroxyurea (Droxia, Hydrea) is used to treat sickle cell anemia.
  7. Treatment for thalassemia: It is usually treated with blood transfusions, folic acid supplements, medication, surgical removal of the spleen (splenectomy) and blood or bone marrow stem cell transplant.

Home Remedies:

There are many types of anemia but the most common type is due to iron deficiency. In a pregnant woman, iron deficiency anemia can cause serious complications. Since the occurrence of anemia is more in woman, they need to be extra cautious about their daily diet. At home, you can increase vitamin C intake like orange, lemon etc. Add more green vegetables to your diet. Drink beetroot or pomegranate juice, raisin and dates.

Why choose Apollo Diagnostics?

We have the expertise of 34 + years in healthcare. Our labs are equipped with EQUAS (External Quality Assurance System) and loaded with full automated machines to ensure error free reports, with a quick turnaround time, and at an affordable price. For your convenience, we offer free home collection of samples.

For appointments, please call 4444 2424.


  1. Understanding Anemia- The basics. Accessed on 13/10/2017
  2. Understanding Anemia- Symptoms. Accessed on 13/10/2017
  3. Accessed on 13/10/2017
  4. Accessed on 13/10/2017

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