Anemia means you have a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells or that your red blood cells are not functioning properly. Red blood cells contain a protein called hemoglobin, and it is that protein that carries oxygen to your cells.
You are considered anemic by the World Health Organization if a lab test shows a hemoglobin value of less than:
Men: 13.0 grams per deciliter
Women: 12.0 grams per deciliter
Patients with anemia may experience:
- Shortness of breath
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Pounding in your ears
- Cold hands or feet
- Pale or yellow skin
- Chest pain
- Children with chronic anemia are prone to infections and learning problems
Checking hemoglobin requires a simple blood test. During your next visit to the doctor, ask for your hemoglobin count.
If you are anemic, ask your doctor what can be done to treat the condition. This is especially important for individuals who decline blood transfusions for religious or other reasons. Patients who enter the operating room anemic are much more likely to need blood transfusions during their hospital stay. Treating anemia in advance can significantly decrease the need for transfusion and its associated risks.
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