Anaemia occurs when the amount of haemoglobin in your blood is low or when your red blood cell count is low.
Haemoglobin transports oxygen through your blood and absorbs carbon dioxide.
The most common type of anaemia is iron deficiency anaemia (low iron levels). This can be caused by blood loss or a dietary deficiency. Pregnancy can also cause a drop in iron levels.
Your ability to absorb vitamin B12 or folic acid, as well as chronic illness can also cause anaemia.
What are the symptoms of anaemia?
Many anaemic patients experience no symptoms for months. A general lack of energy as well as weakness, feeling faint or dizziness may gradually develop. In severe cases shortness of breath, pale complexion, brittle or dry nails and sore and dry mouth and gums may develop. Left untreated anaemia can impact your immune system making your more susceptible to illness or infection.
A simple blood test can diagnose anaemia.
How is anaemia treated?
Depending on the severity of your anaemia adjustments in your diet may be all that is needed. Foods rich in the nutrients you need may be prescribed. Your anaemia may also be treated using supplements.
Following your initial diagnosis you will need to be monitored to confirm your course of treatment is working.
Related tests and scans
Waiting for blood tests and results can be an anxious time. If you’ve been referred by a GP for a test and don’t want to worry or wait, Nuffield Health can help. Our national network of fully accredited laboratories delivers fast, reliable results at a competitive price – wherever you are in the UK.