Types of Anemia

types of anemia

You’ve been feeling tired and weak for months. You’ve even had fainting spells. After running some tests, your doctor tells you that you are anemic. Anemia is a condition in which your body’s tissues aren’t getting enough oxygen, because you lack healthy red blood cells. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia worldwide. However, many types of anemia exist, which is caused by different factors.

What are the Different Types of Anemia?

Iron deficiency anemia: As mentioned above, this is the most common type of anemia worldwide. A lack of iron leads to this type of anemia.

Vitamin deficiency anemia: Vitamin deficiency anemia develops when your body doesn’t have the vitamins it needs to produce healthy red blood cells.

Anemia of chronic diseases: Chronic diseases such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, and kidney disease can impact production of healthy red blood cells. A lack of healthy red blood cells can lead to anemia.

Hemolytic anemia: When red blood cells are destroyed faster than they are made, a person can develop hemolytic anemia. This condition is either genetic or acquired from viral or bacterial infections. An overactive spleen, tumors, mechanical heart valves, or severe reaction to a blood transfusion can lead to this condition. Rarely certain medications (penicillin, sulfa medicines, acetaminophen) can also lead to hemolytic anemia.

Sickle cell anemia: Sickle cell anemia is an inherited condition in which red blood cells are crescent-shaped instead of circular-shaped. These ridged cells can get stuck in small blood vessels. When cells are abnormally-shaped, it can slow down or block the flow of oxygen to other parts of the body.

Other Rare Types of Anemia Include...

Aplastic (or Hypoplastic) Anemia: Aplastic anemia is a rare condition in which the bone marrow stops making enough red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Fanconi anemia is the most common form of aplastic anemia, although it is rare. This inherited disease mainly affects children ages 3 – 14. 

Sideroblastic Anemia: This is a form of anemia in which the bone marrow produces abnormal red blood cells. Iron accumulates in the red blood cells, and the nucleus of the cells become abnormal, or ringed. 

Myelodysplastic Syndromes: Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of disorders that cause the bone marrow difficulty in making new blood cells. New blood cells are needed to transport blood and oxygen.

Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia: This type of anemia is caused by an autoimmune condition. The body produces antibodies that destroy red blood cells. Red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be replaced.

Congenital Dyserythropoietic Anemia: CDA is an inherited blood disorder that impacts red blood cell development. The shortage of red blood cells prevents an adequate flow of blood and oxygen to other parts of the body. 

Diamond-Blackfan Anemia: This type of anemia is inherited. The bone marrow fails to produce red blood cells, causing severe anemia.

Megaloblastic Anemia: This condition is caused by a vitamin deficiency. This deficiency causes the bone marrow produces abnormal, and immature red blood cells. Without enough healthy, fully-matured red blood cells, anemia can develop.

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