A low hemoglobin is when there is a below-average concentration of the oxygen enthused hemoglobin proteins present in your blood blood. A average definition of a low hemoglobin count is as follows, less than 13.5 grams of hemoglobin per deciliter (135 grams per liter) of blood for men and less than 12 grams per deciliter (120 grams per liter) for women. A low hemoglobin count can be due to harmless reasons but it can also be a symptom of a variety of different diseases.
The first type of disease that can be diagnosed via a low hemoglobin count is Cirrhosis. This type of hemoglobin diseases is scarring of the liver, poor liver function and it signifies the final stage of liver failure. There are quite a few causes for this disease, these include a long-term Hepatitis C infection, Long-term alcohol abuse (see alcoholic liver disease), Autoimmune inflammation of the liver, a disorder of the drainage system of the liver, a long term Hepatitis B infection, Medications, Metabolic disorders of iron and copper and Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The symptoms of this low hemoglobin diseases will manifest gradually and include, Confusion or problems thinking, Impotence, loss of interest in sex, and breast development in men, Loss of appetite, Nausea and vomiting, Nosebleeds or bleeding gums, Pale or clay-colored stools, Small, red spider-like blood vessels on the skin, Swelling or fluid buildup of the legs and in the abdomen, Vomiting blood or blood in stools, Weakness, Weight loss and Yellow color in the skin, mucus membranes, or eyes.
To deduce whether or not an individual has Cirrhosis a number of tests can be undertaken by the heath professional. These are:
- Computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the abdomen
- Endoscopy to check for abnormal veins in the esophagus or stomach
- Ultrasound of the abdomen
- Blood tests to discern if there is Anemia or Low blood albumin
Once this type of low hemoglobin diseases develops it is untreatable as it is not possible to heal the liver or return its function to normal. Thus a liver transplant may be needed.
The next type of diseases that involve hemoglobin is sickle cell anemia. This is where a type of hemoglobin called hemoglobin S is shaped as crescents or sickles instead of the usual disc shape. This altered shape of the blood cells caused by this hemoglobin diseases causes the cells to deliver less oxygen to the body's tissues. The hemoglobin diseases is genetic and you will acquire it if your mother and the father have the defective form of the gene. The symptoms of this illness will not appear until four months of age and they include:
- Attacks of abdominal pain
- Bone pain
- Delayed growth and puberty
- Rapid heart rate
- Ulcers on the lower legs
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin
- Chest pain
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Painful and prolonged erection
- Poor eyesight/blindness
- Skin ulcers
There are a multitude of tests that can be performed in order to diagnosis Anemia, they are:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Hemoglobin electrophoresis
- Sickle cell test
- Other tests may include:
- Blood oxygen
- CT scan or MRI
- Peripheral smear
- Serum creatinine
- Serum hemoglobin
- Serum potassium
- Urinary casts or blood in the urine
- White blood cell count
There is no cure for this illness, so what needs to be done is to enact appropriate methods to manage and control the symptoms, avoiding crises and complications:
- Antibiotics: This is normally for individuals of 2 months of age until 5 years for the purpose of preventing infections, such as pneumonia. This infections are life threatening for young children that have sickle cell anemia.
- Pain-relieving medications
- Hydroxyurea: Reduces the frequency of painful crises and may reduce the need for blood transfusions.
- Immunizations to prevent infections
- Blood transfusions
- Supplemental oxygen
- Stem cell transplant
- Folic acid supplements
Tips and comments
To determine if you have any hemoglobin diseases its a good idea to get regular blood tests to discern your hemoglobin levels.