What is anemia? Anemia is not an actual disease – it is a condition that's caused by some other problem. Anemia describes a decrease in the number of red blood cells in the body. This decrease can be serious because red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body.
Types of anemia include:
- iron-deficiency anemia (the most common type), which occurs when there is a shortage of the element iron in the body
- sickle cell anemia, a hereditary condition that causes red blood cells to become an abnormal shape
- aplastic anemia, where the bone marrow stops producing all types of blood cells, including red blood cells
- anemia of chronic disease, which occurs with people who have diseases that last more than 1 to 2 months (e.g., tuberculosis, HIV, cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis [a progressive, chronic condition that causes the lining of your joints or other body areas to become inflamed])
Treatment for anemia depends on the type and cause of anemia. Treatment may require supplements (e.g., iron supplement for iron-deficiency anemia) or blood transfusion (e.g., in sickle cell anemia).
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