Is your child feeling tired after play? Are you feel he is pale? Did you see a blood loss from stool? Is your child not gaining weight?… If yes, your child could be anemic..Needs urgent care. Let us know what is anemia.
What is Anemia?
Anemia is a condition with low hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is like structure in red blood cell of blood. Red cells are one of the types of cells in the blood due to which our blood looks red. Hemoglobin is a transport vehicle for oxygen within our body. So once you breathe, take oxygen in, oxygen combines with Hemoglobin and then it is transported to each cell of the body to be delivered and in turn, oxygen sustains a life of those cells.
Imagine now what would happen if hemoglobin -our transport is not functioning, how our cells get deprived of oxygen. Anemia results from the poor production of red cells increased destruction or loss of red cells. Poor production could be due to damage in bone marrow or poor supply of nutrients required to produce RBCs-Like iron, Vitamin B12 or Folic acid.
Loss of RBCs could be due to blood loss from injuries, dysentery or toxins destroying blood. The life of red cells in blood can be shortened due to genetic defects in hemoglobin or cell membrane of cells like Thalassemia, sickle cell anemia or spherocytosis.
Symptoms of Anemia :
Symptoms will be very non-specific and generalized. Child will grow less , poor weight gain,look pale white, feels tired, falls sick frequently. There are symptoms of associated nutrition deficiency..Acute blood loss anemia or very serious anemia will result in breathing difficulties also. A child may perform poor in school. Anemia due to Thalassemia results in changes in shape of head and abdominal distention. Vitamin B 12 deficiency will have poor cognition and understanding along with anemia.
Yes,we must investigate thoroughly.History, physical examination and blood tests are basic steps.CBC is the basic blood test your doctor will advise you. It studies size of red blood cells, increased as Macrocytic anemia and decreased as Microcytic anemia and normal as normocytic anemia. Now we can redefine microcytic anemia with a reading called RDW. Raised RDW is majoritily iron deficiency anemia -the commonest anemia.
If you have normal RDW ,we have to think of Thalassemia syndromes.In macrocytic group,B12 deficiency is the commonest cause of anemia. Your doctor may advise you further test to confirm the cause. Mind well,it is not only the report , physical examination and reports are to be considered as a complete process. Stool report is advised to evaluate if there is a chronic loss of blood, infection or worms in the intestine. If doctor suspect malignancy in bone marrow, a specific test of bone marrow biopsy is sought.
Every anemia has a specific cause and treatment can address well. Acute blood loss patients need to be transfused with pack cells if needed. Most of chronic anemia may not need blood transfusion urgently. And giving blood is no way a long term solution .Iron deficiency is the commonest cause and Iron therapy is easiest and most effective rewarding treatment.
Iron shall be taken in oral tablet, capsule or syrup or rarely injections. A course must be given full 3 months and repeat tests may not be required always. Diet rich in iron as green leafy vegetables is the must. Worms treatment will be an additional need if the report says so. Vitamin B12 can be given as injections or sublingual tablets for a couple of weeks. Make sure you be in touch with the doctor as self-medication is never a treatment choice. If anemia is proved due to Thalassemia, you need to consult paediatrician and plan long-term care. Bone marrow diseases and malignancies are very tricky to treat and requires haematologist expertise.
Dr Maulik Bakshi
Dr. Maulik Bakshi – MD. Pediatrics,
“Director & Consultant Pediatrician,