Anaemia is a condition characterised by a reduced haemoglobin concentration or a reduced number of red blood cells. There are two main causes of anaemia, either due to iron deficiency, which is the most common reason, or a combined vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiency.
Iron is required to make haemoglobin which is essential to store and carry oxygen in the red blood cells. When you are low in iron, the red blood cells are unable to carry sufficient oxygen around the body.
A lack of iron in your body can be caused by a wide range of factors: by gastrointestinal blood loss which is bleeding in the stomach and intestines; by a stomach ulcer, by certain drugs and by cancer. Other causes of iron deficiency anaemia are pregnancy, menstruation and an insufficient dietary supply of iron.
Symptoms and signs of anaemia include:
• Dry, brittle nails
• Shortness of breath
• A sore tongue and a change in sense of taste
• Hair loss especially in women
If you feel you may have anaemia, it is important to have a very simple blood test to find out and determine the cause and severity in order to treat the anaemia successfully.
Some foods which contain lots of iron:
• Red meat
• Green leafy vegetables such as spinach
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