Reduced red blood cells: what does it mean?

A low content of red blood cells is called anemia. It can occur suddenly or develop over a long period of time. For the successful treatment of anemia is necessary to correctly establish the diagnosis.

The structure and functions of erythrocytes

Red blood cells are blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs throughout the body. The number of erythrocytes determines the amount of oxygen received by body tissues. These cells are created in bone marrow through a series of complex and specific steps. When all stages of maturation of erythrocytes is completed, they are released into the bloodstream. Inside the red blood cells contains hemoglobin – a complex protein molecule that is responsible for the function of red blood cells. Unlike most human cells, red blood cells have no nucleus. For the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow is influenced by many factors. For example, iron is a very important component of the hemoglobin molecule. Erythropoietin is a hormone produced by the kidney that promotes the formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow.

What that means is low level of red blood cells?

The normal number of red blood cells in the blood is:

  • The man – 4,32 – of 5.72 x 1012 /L.
  • Women – 3,90 – of 5.03 x 1012 /L.
  • The newborn – to 4.8 – 7.2 x 1012 /L.
  • The child – 3,8 – 5.5 x 1012 /L.

Red blood cells are lowered in the case if in the General analysis of blood the number is less important.

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The reasons for reducing the number of red blood cells

There are more than 400 types of anemia, all of them can be divided into three groups:

  • The decrease in the number of red blood cells caused by blood loss.
  • Anemia associated with a decrease in red blood cell production.
  • Reduced red blood cells due to their accelerated destruction.

Anemia due to blood loss

Red blood cells can be lost due to slow and imperceptible bleeding, which is often the result of the following situations:

  • Diseases of the digestive system: ulcers, hemorrhoids, gastritis, malignant neoplasms.
  • The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. Aspirin or Ibuprofen).
  • Menstruation and childbirth in women.

Anemia violating the creation of red blood cells

Cause of RBC production may be a lack of minerals or vitamins. Diseases associated with this type of anemia include:

  • Sickle-cell anemia.
  • Iron-deficiency anemia.
  • The lack of vitamins.
  • Disease bone marrow and stem cells.
  • Anemia develop due to other diseases.

Servoventilation anemia is a genetic disease in which red blood cells become sickle-shaped. They are rapidly destroyed, causing anemia. Sickle-shaped red blood cells can get stuck in tiny vessels, thus causing pain. In sickle cell anemia the erythrocyte is lowered.
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Iron deficiency anemia develops due to lack of iron, which is necessary to bone marrow for hemoglobin synthesis. It can be caused by:

  • Poor iron diet.
  • Increased need for iron during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Menstruation.
  • Frequent blood donation.
  • Diseases of the digestive system (e.g., Crohn’s disease), surgical removal of part of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Use of certain drugs, food and drinks.
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Vitaminodefitsitnye anemia may be associated with a lack of vitamin B12 and folic acid that are needed for creating red blood cells. Situation leading to the development of a low content of red blood cells, include megaloblastic anemia and pernicious anemia, lack of vitamin B12 in the diet.

Problems with stem cells or bone marrow can disrupt the creation of red blood cells. If stem cells are too few, they have defects, or replaced by cancer cells may occur aplastic anemia and thalassemia. On the bone marrow is also affected by the toxic lead. Anemia that develops due to certain disease, usually occurs when the decrease in the number of hormones that are required to create red blood cells. It can lead:

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  • Kidney disease.
  • Decrease functioning of the thyroid gland.
  • Chronic diseases such as cancer, infection, systemic lupus erythematosus, diabetes.
  • Old age.

Anemia caused by the breakdown of red blood cells

If RBCs are too fragile, they can easily be destroyed, leading to the development of hemolytic anemia. Its causes can be:

  • Genetic diseases (thalassemia and sickle cell anemia).
  • The stress caused by infections, medicines, insect poisons or snakes, certain foods.
  • Toxins that occur in hepatic and renal failure.
  • Hemolytic disease of the newborn.
  • The presence of artificial prosthesis in the body.
  • Tumors, coagulation disorders, burns.
  • Enlargement of the spleen that can detect red blood cells and destroy them.

Diagnosis of anemia

For the diagnosis of anaemia is often enough to make a General analysis of blood. But sometimes, to identify its causes more studies are needed, which include the average volume and width distribution of erythrocytes, hemoglobin electrophoresis, number of reticulocytes, the determination of the level of iron in the blood.

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Because anemia can have many causes, patient may need to be checked for the presence of renal or hepatic insufficiency, lead poisoning, lack of vitamins. If the doctor believes that the reason for the reduction of red blood cells is internal bleeding, he may order a stool test for occult blood and endoscopy. In addition, you may need a survey of the bone marrow, which needed his biopsy.