Anemia is a condition marked by inadequate oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. An insufficient number of red blood cells or an abnormally low amount of oxygen-transporting hemoglobin within the red blood cells can cause anemia. Anemias are commonly grouped according to the appearance of the red blood cells. Microcytic hypochromic anemias are those with abnormally small red blood cells containing a low concentration of hemoglobin. Disturbances in hemoglobin and red blood cell production in the bone marrow cause microcytic hypochromic anemias.
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is the most prevalent type of anemia in general and of microcytic anemia in particular, reports Dr. James Mason in a U.S. National Library of Medicine Medline Plus entry 12. This disorder develops when the amount of iron absorbed from the diet fails to keep pace with total body iron losses, leading to an iron deficiency. Because iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, insufficient iron slows red blood cell production. The red blood cells produced are microcytic and hypochromic.
Iron deficiency anemia develops when the diet lacks iron, the gastrointestinal tract fails to absorb dietary iron, or the amount of iron lost by the body is abnormally high 2. Prolonged breastfeeding, excessive amounts of cows' milk and strict vegan diets may lead to iron deficiency anemia due to insufficient dietary iron 2. Certain medications, removal of the stomach or large sections of the small intestine, and malabsorptive intestinal diseases such as Crohn's or celiac disease can interfere with iron absorption. Treatment of iron deficiency anemia centers on replenishing the body's iron stores 2.
Omeprazole and Iron Deficiency Anemia
The sideroblastic anemias are characterized by a defect in the production of hemoglobin. Specifically, incorporation of iron into the hemoglobin molecule is defective, explains the medical reference text "Hematology Clinical and Laboratory Practice." The defect causes a decreased number of circulating red blood cells. Those that reach the circulation are microcytic and hypochromic.
Sideroblastic anemia can be inherited or acquired. Copper and vitamin B6 deficiencies, excessive alcohol consumption and certain medications can precipitate sideroblastic anemia. Correction of the underlying cause often corrects the acquired form of the condition. Frequent blood transfusions prove necessary for people with inherited sideroblastic anemia.
The thalassemias are a group of inherited blood disorders characterized by defects in the protein portions of the hemoglobin molecule. The thalassemias, including alpha thalassemia and beta thalassemia, cause a microcytic hypochromic anemia 4. Beta thalassemias prove most common in people of Mediterranean, African or Asian ancestry. The severity of anemia associated with the thalassemias varies, depending on the number of defective genes inherited.
- Anemia is a condition marked by inadequate oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
- The red blood cells produced are microcytic and hypochromic.
- Iron deficiency anemia develops when the diet lacks iron, the gastrointestinal tract fails to absorb dietary iron, or the amount of iron lost by the body is abnormally high.
- The sideroblastic anemias are characterized by a defect in the production of hemoglobin.
- Correction of the underlying cause often corrects the acquired form of the condition.
- Frequent blood transfusions prove necessary for people with inherited sideroblastic anemia.
Omeprazole and Iron Deficiency Anemia
Ferritin Deficiency Symptoms
How Long Does Iron Stay in Your System?
B-12 and Iron Absorption
Vitamin B12 Injections & Rheumatoid Arthritis
High Iron Levels & Blood Clots
Does Iron Deficiency Cause Headaches?
Iron Levels in Liver
What Are the Symptoms of Protein or Iron Deficiency?
Low Iron Level Symptoms During Pregnancy
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Iron-Deficiency Anemia
- Medline Plus: Iron Deficiency Anemia
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Thalassemias
- Gene Reviews: Beta Thalassemia
- "Hematology Clinical and Laboratory Practice"; Rodger L. Bick, M.D., Editor-in-Chief; 1993
- Keith Brofsky/Digital Vision/Getty Images