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Red Blood Cells, Hemoglobin, Iron-Poor Blood, and Anemia: What’s it All About?

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If you're a woman, chances are that at some point in your life you’ll develop a condition known as anemia. Sometimes referred to as iron-poor or tired blood, most women of child-bearing years are well familiar with this condition that leaves you abnormally tired, fatigued, and envying the sweet toddler and his afternoon nap! No matter what name you call it, anemia can be troublesome and interfere with your quality of life. Below, we’ll take a closer look at anemia -- what it is and what it isn’t -- the different common forms, how you can recognize it, and perhaps even prevent it from developing or worsening.

If you were to take a peek inside your veins, you’d find both red and white blood cells. White blood cells are the warriors against infection. Red blood cells, on the other hand, are the transport mechanism that delivers oxygen throughout the body.

The primary delivery tool is the protein called hemoglobin. Because it’s rich in iron, hemoglobin is also responsible for making blood red in color. Although there are different causes, anemia occurs when you don’t have enough hemoglobin in your red blood cells.

One of the most common symptoms of anemia is unusual tiredness or fatigue. In addition, you may also exhibit other symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, chest pains, pale skin, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, cognitive problems, or cold hands and feet.

Anemia can be caused by a number of conditions and diseases including cancer, HIV or AIDS, vitamin deficiencies, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, poor diet, pregnancy or certain medications. In general, however, there are three main causes of anemia: blood loss, lack of production of red blood cells, and destruction of red blood cells.

Probably the most familiar type of anemia is iron-deficiency anemia. Many women develop this condition as a result of monthly blood loss during their menses. However, there are actually many different types of anemia including:

• Aplastic anemia
• Blood loss anemia
• Cooley's anemia
• Diamond-Blackfan anemia
• Fanconi anemia

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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