Anemia is a condition that occurs when the body has insufficient red blood cells or insufficient hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the major ingredient of red blood cells, the part that enables the body to receive oxygen.
When the cells of the body are oxygen-deprived, anemia, a serious but treatable condition, results. Anemia, which affects more than 3 million Americans, is the most common blood disorder.
Women, especially pregnant women, people with chronic diseases or poor diets, and the elderly are at increased risk of anemia.
Types of Anemia
There are many types of anemia, often named for their origins, such as:
- Anemia of chronic disease
- Aplastic anemia
- Bone marrow anemia
- Hemolytic anemia
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Pernicious anemia
- Sickle cell anemia
- Vitamin deficiency anemia
Diagnosis of Anemia
Usually the patient’s presenting symptoms or a blood test during a routine physical examination are the first clues leading to a diagnosis of anemia.
If anemia is suspected because of presenting symptoms, a blood test will confirm the condition.
Treatment of Anemia
Treatment of anemia depends on its cause. If it is caused by an iron or vitamin deficiency, supplements may be given either orally or through injection. Some types of anemia, such as anemia resulting from pregnancy, may not be treated since they are considered to be temporary and perhaps even expected. In certain cases, other treatments may be used to combat anemia, such as blood transfusions or the administration of drugs to stimulate production of red blood cells.
Thyroid disease is a common condition that occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce the proper amount of hormones needed by the body. Thyroid hormones help regulate the body’s heart rate, temperature and metabolism. A malfunctioning gland may be producing too much or too little of these hormones for a number of different reasons, such as an autoimmune disease, exposure to radiation, reaction to medication or pregnancy.
Hypothyroidism is a common condition that occurs when an underactive thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones to properly manage many important functions of the body. The thyroid is the gland in the front of the neck that controls energy use and metabolic functions. If the thyroid gland is not active enough, it does not make enough thyroid hormone to meet the body’s needs and causes certain functions of the body to slow down.
As a result, functions such as heart rate, brain function and the rate that the body converts food into energy, all slow down. Women over the age of age of 60 are at the highest risk for developing hypothyroidism. If left untreated, this condition may cause a variety of health complications including obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease.
Hyperthyroidism, also known as an overactive thyroid gland, is a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland excretes an excessive amount of thyroid hormones. This overproduction creates more hormones than the body needs and causes many important bodily functions to speed up. The thyroid is the gland in the front of the neck that controls energy use, metabolism, heart and nervous system functions and other metabolic functions.
An overproduction of thyroid hormones can lead to weight loss, irregular heartbeat and irritability. Hyperthyroidism is more common in people over the age of 60 and women are more likely than men to develop hyperthyroidism.
Arthritis is a condition that causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints. Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis caused by the wearing down of the cartilage that protects the bones of a joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition caused by an inflammation in the lining of the joints. Both forms of arthritis cause pain, tenderness, and swelling, and may result in loss of movement in the affected joints.
Over time, joints affected by arthritis may become severely damaged. Arthritis occurs more frequently in older individuals, however it sometimes develops in athletes from overuse of a joint or after an injury. It can however, affect people of any age, including children.
In addition to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, there are other types of arthritis, and depending on the cause, may affect people of different ages. Gout is a form of arthritis caused by a build-up of uric acid within the body, that causes painful, swollen, red and inflamed joints. Psoriatic arthritis affects people who have psoriasis, a skin condition characterized by red and scaly patches of skin. Psoriatic arthritis is considered an autoimmune disorder and causes joint inflammation, stiffness and pain.
Treatment for Arthritis
Treatment for arthritis varies based on the type and symptoms. Treatment may include medication to control pain, minimize inflammation and slow the progression of joint damage. Exercise and physical therapy may also be effective at keeping joints flexible. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to repair tendons or replace damaged joints.
In addition to medical treatment, some forms of arthritis may respond to lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating a healthy diet and exercise. Heat and cold therapy may also relieve pain and swelling in joints and assistive devices such as canes or walkers may assist individuals with arthritis with mobility.
Diagnosis of Arthritis
Arthritis is diagnosed through a physical examination, diagnostic tests and imaging exams to evaluate the affected areas of the body. An arthroscopy may also be performed to assess damage within the joints.