Causes of Low Hemoglobin – Symptoms, Treatment and Consequences

What are the causes of low hemoglobin

The hemoglobin count is one of the main results that are analyzed in blood tests. It is not for less, because it is one of the most important proteins in the body. It depends on hemoglobin that each of the body’s organs receives the amount of oxygen necessary to carry out its functions. In addition, it also has the function of carrying carbon dioxide to the lungs, which is then expelled.

If the hemoglobin drops, the oxygen reception does too. That is why it is so important to keep it at optimal levels. On this occasion, we will tell you in a HOWTO what are the causes of Low hemoglobin, as well as the symptoms and treatments that are usually followed to increase it. If you suspect that you have a low hemoglobin count, do not hesitate to see your doctor so that they can indicate the indicated treatment to follow.

What is low hemoglobin

Each red blood cell contains hemoglobin within it. In fact, hemoglobin is what gives blood its characteristic red color. It is a protein rich in iron to which oxygen and carbon dioxide bind to travel throughout the body. Now what is low hemoglobin? This is what happens when, when a blood test is performed, the hemoglobin values ​​in the blood are lower than those considered normal.

Hemoglobin: normal values

Although each laboratory has its own standards, they never differ much from each other. The hemoglobin results are located in the blood count, test where the concentration of blood cells, such as erythrocytes and leukocytes, is analyzed. Generally, the normal hemoglobin level varies depending on the sex and age of the patient. Normal hemoglobin values ​​range from[1]:

  • Women: 12.1 to 15.1 g / dL.
  • Pregnant women: 11.0 g / dL or higher.
  • Men: from 13.8 to 17.2 g / dL.
  • Children between 6 months and 4 years: 11g / dL or higher.
  • Children between 5 and 11 years old: 11.5 g / dL or higher.
  • Children between 12 and 14 years old: 12 g / dL or higher.

To learn more about what your blood test hemoglobin results should look like, see our article What are normal blood hemoglobin values.

Low hemoglobin: consequences

What if the hemoglobin levels are lower than normal? There are certain situations, such as menstruation or pregnancy, that can cause a drop in hemoglobin values. As we saw, the low hemoglobin in pregnancy is to be expected. Small casualties do not necessarily have to scare us, but it is always advisable that it be a doctor who evaluates the condition and circumstances of each patient.

However, significantly low hemoglobin is a health risk. The body is not getting the oxygen it needs to function and the body’s energy is affected. This condition, which makes red blood cells sick, is commonly known as anemia.

A untreated anemia it can have short-term and long-term consequences. In children, physical and psychological development can be seriously affected, since oxygen allows optimal growth of the organs and the body. In older people, low hemoglobin has been studied to increase the risk of dementia.

On a day-to-day basis, a lack of hemoglobin can cause extreme tiredness and inability to perform daily activities. If the anemia reaches very severe levels, the heart must pump the blood much harder to compensate for the lack of oxygen. Eventually this can lead to heart failure and even death.

Low hemoglobin: causes

What causes the body to stop producing the hemoglobin it requires? There can be many causes of low hemoglobin, but the most common of them is lack of iron, folic acid or vitamins of group B, like vitamin B12 and B6. These chemicals are necessary for the creation of new red blood cells and a deficit in their consumption can result in an alteration of normal hemoglobin levels.

Low hemoglobin due to lack of nutrients

Low hemoglobin caused by lack of iron is called iron deficiency anemia. This can occur because the patient does not consume enough iron-rich foods or because the body has a failure to absorb the iron that is ingested. The latter can be due to intestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease.

On the other hand, a lack of folic acid or vitamin B12 can cause megaloblastic anemia, a type of anemia characterized by deformed and larger-than-normal red blood cells. In these cases, the red blood cell compound is not fully developed and their life expectancy decreases.

Low hemoglobin from blood loss

Blood loss is also among the causes of low hemoglobin. You do not necessarily have to suffer external injuries or trauma, since blood loss often goes unnoticed because the bleeding is internal. Conditions such as ulcers, urinary tract bleeding, or hemorrhoids are examples of internal blood loss.

Low hemoglobin from bone marrow disorders

The body makes red blood cells and hemoglobin in the bone marrow. Therefore, bone marrow disorders or injuries can also hide behind why hemoglobin is low. This type of condition is called aplastic anemia and can also occur as a result of immune system disorders, in which the body itself attacks the production of blood cells.

Other causes, such as radiation exposure, overuse of certain drugs, such as chloramphenicol, or pregnancy can trigger blood defects.

Low hemoglobin from chronic diseases

In the case of chronic diseases, hemoglobin can go down due to inflammation. It can slow down the production of red blood cells, shorten their life span, and even change the way the body uses iron. Among the conditions that can lead to this type of anemia are rheumatoid arthritis, viruses such as hepatitis or HIV / AIDS, cancer, lupus, lymphoma, among others.

Low hemoglobin from other diseases

Other less common diseases, such as sickle cell anemia, can be the causes of low hemoglobin. Under these circumstances, red blood cells are defective from their creation. These break down and die easily, causing a deficit in the amount of oxygen the body needs.

On the other hand, blood porphyria, a rare and inherited disorder, includes a group of diseases characterized by deficiencies in the body in producing heme, an elemental component of hemoglobin.

What Causes Low Hemoglobin - Low Hemoglobin: Causes

Low hemoglobin: symptoms

One of the best known low hemoglobin symptoms is fatigue and exhaustion. This happens because the organs are not receiving the oxygen they need to function properly. Other typical signs of anemia include:

  • Vertigo, especially when getting up.
  • Short of breath.
  • Cold in the hands or feet.
  • Pale skin and gums.
  • Chest pain.

Children can show signs of anemia when they have poor appetite, behavior problems, or delays in development and growth.

On the other hand, some of the symptoms of low hemoglobin also depend on the underlying disease causing the drop in the first place. For example, the lack of iron will also bring Yessymptoms What:

  • Weak nails
  • Tongue pain
  • Cracks in the corners of the mouth and frequent infections.
  • Additionally, iron-deficient patients may feel like consuming things that are not food, such as dirt, paint, or ice.

However, it is important to note that, many times, the symptoms of anemia may not appear, because it is still very mild or very early. The signs will appear over time. For this reason, it is important to perform a blood test every so often to verify that the counts, not only of hemoglobin but also of all values, remain normal.

Low hemoglobin: medical treatment

Treatment for low blood hemoglobin will depend on why the body is losing hemoglobin in the first place. Because anemias are mainly caused by iron deficiency, the most common treatment is to prescribe nutritional supplements and a balanced diet that includes the vitamins and minerals that are needed for the proper functioning of blood cells.

In the event that the low hemoglobin has been caused by other diseases, they will be prescribed medicines to help fight them. Such is the case with immune disorders that cause the body to attack its own red blood cells, or infections for which antibiotics are prescribed. In the case of excess menstrual bleeding, it is common to prescribe hormones to decrease the amount of blood lost in each menstruation.

For bone marrow disorders, stem cell or bone marrow transplant it may be an option for patients suffering from diseases that otherwise have no cure.

If the anemia is very severe and requires immediate treatment, the …

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