Many diseases are not cause by pathogens, but they can weaken our bodies and make it easier for us to be infected by pathogenic diseases. Some diseases are cause by deficient or unsuitable diets and/or hereditary factors only. One such disease cause by deficient or unsuitable diets is Anaemia. There are different forms of anaemia such as Haemolytic anaemia, Pernicious anaemia, Folic acid deficiency anaemia, Sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia.
Some of the people most at risk of developing anaemia are pregnant women (because of the developing baby), people with poor diets (especially diet low in iron) and women of child-bearing age (blood less due to their periods).
Anaemia is cause by a deficiency of iron in the body. Iron is needed for the formation of haemoglobin (Hb), which is the pigment in the blood that carries oxygen to the cells in our bodies. Anaemia results in the blood having fewer red blood cells and less haemoglobin than is needed to supply the body with oxygen. Anaemia may also be cause by a deficiency of Vitamin B12 and blood loss. Example, Pernicious anaemia is a result of the intestine’s inability to adequately absorb vitamin B12 from food.
- weak and rapid pulse
- dizziness, mainly when the person stands up
- shortness of breath, mainly on physical exertion
- Racing heart or palpitations, mainly on physical exertion
N.B. Anaemia may not be obvious in young people.
Anaemia can be prevented by consuming food that contains iron such as dried beans and peas, wholegrain cereals, nuts, fresh fruits, meat and green leafy vegetables. Supplements containing iron and other nutrients or iron pills can be taken to prevent anaemia from the nutritional angle. Avoiding heavy blood loss is another way of preventive anaemia.
A range of simple blood test can be used to find the exact cause of anaemia. The cause of the anaemia determines the treatment given. Anaemia cause by iron deficiency is treated using supplement. Some of these supplements can be bought without a prescription at a food store or pharmacy. The treatment of iron-deficiency and folic acid (vitamin B12) deficiency anaemia; can be done by dietary means such as eating fruits, whole grain bread, fish, green vegetables and nuts.
In cases where diet and medication are not enough to cure the disease, infusion of blood or blood components directly into the bloodstream may be required.