(CNN) – About 3 and a half million people in the U.S. have anemia, making it one of the most common blood disorders, but what exactly is it?
“Anemia is a decrease in red blood cells circulating through the blood system. It can become a problem because the red blood cells actually bind to oxygen,” said Dr. Jennifer Moncrief.
Fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen around your body, means less of the fuel that your cells and organs need to live.
Anemia can be caused by several different things, but one of the most common causes is iron or vitamin b12 deficiency, another more serious cause is internal bleeding.
“So for instance if a patient has blood loss – maybe they may come in complaining of GI bleeding. Young patients who still have menstrual cycles, they have fibroids, and they can also have it. Patients who had surgery or some type of trauma can have blood loss,” Dr. Moncrief continued.
The symptoms in either case are similar, “Fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, sometimes you can look into your eyes and say “oh they look a little pale today.”
Concentration can be a problem, if you’re concerned about anemia, Dr. Moncrief says make sure you see your doctor regularly, “If you’re resting well and you’re sleep is good, and you’re still complaining of feeling fatigued, then you would probably want to be evaluated.
Copyright CNN 2015