Anemia – The RBC Deficiency and Pregnancy
Anemia is a term derived from the Greek ‘anaimia’ meaning the lack of blood. Anemia is actually the lack of RBC – red blood cells or the lack of hemoglobin in the blood. The hemoglobin is found inside the RBCs and it carries oxygen to the tissues from the lungs. As the quantity of hemoglobin decreases, there is a lack of oxygen in the organs – a condition called hypoxia. The varying degree of anemia has different consequences.
The most common disorder of blood is anemia, and it is of several kinds caused due to various underlying reasons. Anemia can be mainly categorized into deficient RBC production, excessive blood loss and excessive blood cell destruction.
The low count of red blood cells causes a variety of signs and symptoms and can make any other underlying medical condition worse. Anemia symptoms may include weakness, light-headedness, paleness, fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations while severe anemia symptoms may be dizziness, passing out, chest pain, rapid heart rate, angina or heart attack. Presence of anemia may be felt due to symptoms like change in stool color, low BP, jaundice, spleen enlargement or rapid breathing.
Anemia during pregnancy is a common occurrence among women as the demand for vitamins and iron increases in the body. It is necessary for a mother to increase the production of RBCs in the body which is also used by the placenta and the fetus. The body starts producing more RBCs and plasma but the increase is not proportionate. The plasma amount is disproportionately greater than the RBCS and hence blood is diluted. As the RBCs are lesser, there is a fall in hemoglobin concentration. In such cases, medical products like iron supplement pills and medical tests like serum ferritin is the best way to keep a check. Iron deficiency may also be caused due to a low-iron diet, lack of folic acid in the diet or loss of blood due to bleeding from piles or ulcers.
A pregnant woman will generally not have anemia symptoms except when the hemoglobin is below 8g/dl. Starting with paleness and tiredness, the mother may experience palpitations or chest pain if anemia is severe (hemoglobin drops to 6g/dl). Pregnant women should take care about anemia by emphasizing on varied diet, consulting the doctor about food and supplements intake during pregnancy, intake of good sources of iron and supplements of iron, vitamins and especially folic acid, so that the child does not suffer from the problem of spina bifida. Pregnancy is a fragile condition and one should be very careful and alert. Rest and proper food always proves to be good for the child.