Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to anaemia: pernicious anaemia, iron deficiency anaemia


Variant of anemia.


See anemia.


A condition characterised by decreased red cells or haemoglobin in the blood, resulting in decreased O2 in peripheral tissues. Anaemias are divided into various groups based on cause—e.g., iron deficiency anaemia, megaloblastic anaemia (due to decreased vitamin B12 or folic acid) or aplastic anaemia (where RBC precursors in the bone marrow are depleted).

Clinical findings
Fatigability, pallor, palpitations, shortness of breath.

Anaemia classifications
• Megaloblastic anaemia:
       – Vitamin B12 deficiency;
       – Folic acid deficiency. 
Microcytic hypochromic 
• Iron-deficiency anaemia;
• Hereditary defects;
• Sickle cell anaemia; 
• Thalassemia;
• Other heamoglobinopathies.
• Acute blood loss;
• Haemolysis;
• BM failure;
• Anaemia of chronic disease;
• Renal failure.
• Iron;
• Vitamin B12;
• Folic acid;
• Pyridoxine;
Central (due to BM failure)
• Anaemia of chronic disease;
• Anaemia of senescence;
• Malignancy:
        – BM replacement by tumour;
        – Toxicity due to chemotherapy;
        – Primary BM malignancy, e.g., leukaemia.
• Haemorrhage;
• Haemolysis.


Any condition in which the number of red blood cells per mm3, the amount of hemoglobin in 100 mL of blood, or the volume of packed red blood cells per 100 mL of blood is less than normal; clinically, generally pertaining to the concentration of oxygen-transporting material in a designated volume of blood. It is frequently manifested by pallor of the skin and mucous membranes, shortness of breath, palpitations of the heart, soft systolic murmurs, lethargy, and fatigability.
Synonym(s): anaemia.
[G. anaimia, fr. an- priv. + haima, blood]


A reduction in the amount of HAEMOGLOBIN in the blood. There are several different kinds of anaemia including simple iron deficiency anaemia, haemolytic anaemia, pernicious anaemia, and aplastic anaemia.


a deficiency in the number of red blood cells, or in their volume or haemoglobin content.


lower than normal concentration of haemoglobin in the blood, due to a low red blood cell (RBC) count and/or less than normal haemoglobin content in each RBC. Has a variety of causes, most commonly deficiency of iron (required for haemoglobin synthesis) or chronic blood loss. Symptoms include general weakness, shortness of breath and pallor. iron deficiency anaemia is seen not uncommonly in sport and is usually a combination of poor dietary intake and menstrual blood loss. As a result the use of iron supplementation is recommended at a higher than usual ferritin level. See also iron, minerals; Table 1.
Table 1: Micronutrients: minerals
Name and chemical symbolReference nutrient intake (adults, per day)SourcesFunctionsDeficiencyExcess
Calcium Ca700 mgMilk and milk products, green vegetables, soya beans, white bread, hard water
  • Crucial role in all cellular function, in neural transmission, muscle contraction, blood coagulation.
  • As phosphate in bones and teeth
  • Dietary deficiency not uncommon.
  • Rickets, osteomalacia from failure of Ca absorption in Vit D deficiency.
  • Low blood [Ca2+] causes tetany
Calcium deposits in soft tissue can occur, but probably not related to high intake
Chlorine Cl3.4 g (as chloride)Salt-containing foods
  • Major anion in ECF.
  • Role in maintaining electrical gradient across cell membranes
Unlikely with normal dietAs NaCl, risk factor for high blood pressure
Chromium Cr25 μgVegetables, cereals, meats, vegetable oils, whole grainsCo-factor for some enzymes involved in glucose and energy metabolism
  • Rare.
  • Impaired glucose metabolism
  • Inhibition of enzymes.
  • Occupational exposures can cause skin and kidney damage
Copper Cu900 μgMeat, drinking waterCo-factor for some enzymes; intermediate in electron transfer during oxidative phosphorylationLow activity of antioxidant enzymesVery high intake can cause liver damage
Iodine I140 μgSeafood, iodized salt, milk and milk products, meat and eggsSynthesis of thyroid hormonesThyroid swelling (goitre) with hypothyroidism: low BMR, lethargyRarely any effect; may exacerbate some skin diseases
Iron Fe
  • Women 14.8 mg
  • Men 8.7 mg
Liver, kidney, red meat, egg yolk, wholegrains, pulses, dark green vegetables, dried fruit, treacle, cocoa, molassesComponent of haemoglobin, myoglobin and many enzymes
  • Iron deficiency anaemia not uncommon.
  • In childhood, poor growth; impaired intellectual development
Can be toxic if very excessive. (from blood transfusions rather than from diet); gastrointestinal upset; may promote vascular disease
Fluoride F3-4 mgDrinking water, mostly as calcium fluoride; tea, seafoodMay be important in maintenance of bone structureIncreased risk of tooth decayUnlikely from dietary sources
Magnesium Mg
  • Women 270 mg
  • Men 300 mg
Cereals, milk, nuts, seeds, and green vegetablesCo-factor for enzymes essential in metabolism; role in calcium homeostasis; skeletal development; neuromuscular functionUncommon; can occur with malabsorption or in chronic renal failure, when it accompanies hypocalcaemiaUnlikely from dietary sources
Phosphorus-P550 mg (as phosphate)Milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, poultry, grains, fishAdenosine phosphate compounds vital in energy metabolism. With Ca in bones and teethOnly in severe malnutrition; muscle weakness, bone pain, rickets, anorexia, anaemiaIn treatment of osteoporosis or bone cancer with biphosphonates
Potassium K3.5 gFruit, vegetables, meat, wholegrains
  • Major intracellular cation; muscle contraction and nerve excitability.
  • Linked to acid-base regulation
  • Poor dietary intake rare. Can occur with prolonged use of diuretics and purgatives.
  • Muscular weakness; depression; confusion; cardiac arrhythmia
High ECF [K+] (hyperkalaemia) causes cardiac arrest
Selenium Se
  • Women 50 μg
  • Men 70 μg
Seafood, meat, grains, wheat flourKey component in the endogenous antioxidant, glutathione peroxidaseHealth implications of low intake in UK currently under DoH review. May cause abnormality of heart muscleExcessive supplements: hair loss, skin rash, neurological disorder
Sodium Na1.6 gMainly as salt: table salt, and in milk, meat, vegetables, sauces, pickles, processed foods, snacks, cheeseMajor extracellular cation; linked to ECF volume, hence to blood volume and blood pressure. Component of bone mineralLoss in sweat and diarrhoea; dilution in body fluids due to excess water intake. Weakness, cramp; faintness, confusionOedema, hypertension
Zinc Zn
  • Women 7.0 mg
  • Men 9.5 mg
Red meat, dairy products, eggs, wholegrains, peas, beans, nuts, lentils
  • Co-factor for many enzymes.
  • Synthesis of some proteins. Wound healing; immune system; physical and sexual development
  • Retarded skeletal growth; sexual immaturity.
  • Anorexia, fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, or anaemia with chronic excess.
  • Also decreases iron and copper bioavailability


condition characterized by reduced numbers of red blood cells (erythrocytes) per mm3 of blood, reduced haemoglobin, packed red blood cell volume and reduced blood oxygenation, so that patients with anaemia are characteristically pale and feel constantly tired; examples include:
  • aplastic anaemia anaemia associated with bone marrow hypoplasia

  • Cooley's anaemia see thalassaemia major

  • iron-deficiency anaemia anaemia due to insufficient iron levels and inadequate haemoglobin synthesis (due to e.g. blood loss, pregnancy, growth spurt, reduced gut absorption, inadequate dietary intake); also characterized by brittle hair and nails, and koilonychia

  • pernicious anaemia chronic, progressive, autoimmune, macrocytic anaemia of older adults; vitamin B12 is not absorbed due to autoimmune gastric mucosa; also associated with vitamin B12 neuropathy

  • sickle-cell anaemia inherited disease characterized by sickle-shaped (crescentic) erythrocytes in peripheral blood, and abnormal haemoglobin (HbS); patients are either genetically homozygous (with sickle-cell disease) or heterozygous (as sickle-cell trait)


Any condition in whichthe number of red blood cells/mm3, the amount of hemoglobin in 100 mL of blood, and/or the volume of packed red blood cells/100 mL of blood are less than normal; frequently manifested by pallor of the skin and mucous membranes, shortness of breath, palpitations of the heart, soft systolic murmurs, lethargy, and tendency to fatigue.
Synonym(s): anaemia.
[G. anaimia, fr. an- priv. + haima, blood]


see anemia.

Patient discussion about anaemia

Q. What is the Treatment for Anemia? I would like to know what are the possible treatments for anemia?

A. The first step in treating anemia, is discovering the cause for it. By a series of simple blood tests it is easy to discover iron defficiency, folic acid defficiency and vitamin B12 defficiency anemia, all which can be treated with oral supplements or a change of nutrition. Anemia that is associated with rectal bleeding should be further investigated, because it is often the first sign of colon polyps or colon cancer. Colonoscopy is then recommended.

Q. What are the Symptoms of Anemia? Lately I've been feeling very tired. My friend suggested I might be anemic. What are the major symptoms of anemia?

A. The symptoms of anemia vary according to the type of anemia, the underlying cause, and any underlying health problems. Anemia may be associated with other medical conditions such as hemorrhage, ulcers, menstrual problems or cancer -- and specific symptoms of those conditions may be noticed first.

The body also has a remarkable ability to compensate for early anemia. If your anemia is mild or developed over a long period of time, you may not notice any symptoms. Symptoms common to many types of anemia include the following:

Easy fatigue and loss of energy
Unusually rapid heart beat, particularly with exercise
Shortness of breath and headache, particularly with exercise
Difficulty concentrating
Pale skin
Leg cramps

Hope this helps.

Q. What is the Definition of Anemia? My doctor told me I have anemia, based on my latest blood tests. What is anemia?

A. In laymans terms it is low iron. Most women get it sometime in their lives due to menstration and other factors. You need to increase your iron intake. Lots of beets, beans, spinich, and lots of other foods can help.

More discussions about anaemia
References in periodicals archive ?
Treatable factors associated with severe anaemia in adults admitted to medical wards in Blantyre, Malawi, an area of high HIV seroprevalence.
Iron deficiency anaemia, assessment, prevention and control: a guide for programme managers.
Overall nearly half (49%) those with anaemia take time off work due to tiredness or lethargy, 81% struggle to get through the working day, 68% feel that relationships with loved ones suffer due to tiredness, and 83% need to get some sleep during the day.
Rationale and design of Ferinject assessment in patients with IRon deficiency and chronic Heart Failure (FAIR-HF) study: a randomized, placebo-controlled study of intravenous iron supplementation in patients with and without anaemia.
Studies carried out in India and elsewhere have shown that iron deficiency is the major cause of anaemia followed by folate deficiency.
While there are many types of anaemia, iron deficiency anaemia is the most common.
The findings are taken from the European Cancer Anaemia Survey (ECAS), the largest ever prospective study of cancer-related anaemia, which assessed over 15,000 cancer patients with mild, moderate and severe anaemia across 24 European countries.
Sickle Cell Anaemia Phase 3 Clinical Trial Pipeline Insights
Prevalence, severity and type of anaemia, and associations (Table I)
Starting from adolescence, all non pregnant women should be screened for anaemia every 5-10 yr throughout their childbearing years during routine health examinations.
Fore Pharma's latest report Global Sickle Cell Anaemia Drug Pipeline Capsule - 2011' is an outline of all the key research and development (R&D) activities of the global sickle cell anaemia drug market.