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I have severe anaemia, what do I do?

Q: I am a 22 years old girl and I am having low haemoglobin of 7 g/dl and I have this problem of anaemia since the past 5-6 years. Lately, this has been troubling me since it is getting worse day by day. I have severe pain, which travels up my left hand and sometimes I feel numbness in my hands and legs. Sometimes, I feel something heavy being kept on the left side of my chest. Is this a symptom of any heart disease or any severe disease? Please let me know. For the past one year, my vitamin B12 levels too have been very low. Please let me know the reason for this?

A:Anaemia is defined as a decrease in red blood cell (RBC) mass and is usually discovered and quantified by measurement of the RBC count, haemoglobin (Hb) concentration, and haematocrit (Hct). Anaemia is suggested in males with Hb levels less than 13.0 g/dl and in females with Hb levels less than 12.0 g/dl (less than 11.5 g/dl in pregnant women). It may be due to decreased production of red blood cells, blood loss (haemorrhage) or red cell breakdown (haemolyisis). Anaemia is a symptom of disease that requires investigation to determine the underlying cause. It is twice as common in women than in men, especially during the childbearing years due to menstrual blood loss and pregnancies. One of the commonest cause of anaemia in our country is nutritional deficiency - iron deficiency &/or folic acid/vitamin B12 deficiency. Your symptoms are likely due to the severe anaemia you have. Please get yourself examined by a physician and a gynaecologist and get a complete blood count done (which includes red cell indices) along with a reticulocyte count and a peripheral smear examination. This will give an idea of the underlying cause on which the treatment depends.

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