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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:46 pm
When your red blood cells can't carry enough oxygen to other parts of your body, you're said to have anemia. It can occur because you have fewer red blood cells than normal; you have a lack of oxygen-transporting hemoglobin (HEE-moe-glow-bin) in your blood; or your red cells have decreased in volume. Though there are many types of anemia, most cases involve iron deficiency. Iron deficiency anemia may be caused by unusual blood loss, a diet that's low in iron, or difficulty in utilizing the iron in foods you eat. Due to monthly periods, women experience anemia more often than men. Pregnant women are especially susceptible. In addition, iron-deficiency anemia can be triggered by ulcers or long-term aspirin therapy. B-12 deficiency is another form of anemia; excess alcohol consumption and meatless diets are two common causes. Hemolytic (hee-moe-LIT-ick) anemia occurs when the amount of red blood cells dwindles, due to cells dying off faster than they're replaced. Not getting enough folic (FOE-lick) acid can also lead to a form of anemia, since folic acid is vital in the formation of red cells. Typical symptoms of anemia include a pasty complexion, lack of energy, dark-colored urine, and an increased heart rate. Most anemia is caused by another disorder, so treatment typically focuses on curing that problem. For more information, speak to a doctor in your area.

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