Like many maladies, anemia, generally defined as a lack of healthy red blood cells, is not a disease in its own right (with the exception of sickle cell anemia), but a condition caused by a separate ailment. The underlying causes of anemia vary widely, and range in seriousness from minor and easily treated to life-threatening. Anemia symptoms can come on so gradually that many of those afflicted may not notice them for some time. In addition, some of the causes of anemia are quite serious. Due to the underlying danger that anemia may signify, it's important for those who suffer from the symptoms of anemia to visit their doctors immediately. Ask your doctor the following questions to learn more about this condition.

What type of anemia do I have?

There are many different types of anemia, including iron deficiency anemia, anemia caused by chronic illness, anemia caused by deficiencies in certain vitamins, and several more. If you are concerned that you may have anemia, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns, and to discover the underlying cause of your symptoms.

Can I develop anemia through a poor diet?

Some types of anemia are linked to a lack of iron or vitamins. Ask your doctor if you are concerned about developing anemia as the result of a poor diet, and he or she can help you to develop a diet plan to better your health.

What caused my iron deficiency anemia?

Iron is a necessary component of red blood cells, so if people don't include enough iron in their diets, their red blood cell count will be low, causing anemia. Other causes of iron deficiency anemia include chronic bleeding, colon cancer, and even kidney failure, among other possibilities. Be sure to discuss with your doctor the possible causes of and treatments for your iron deficiency anemia.

How dangerous is my sickle cell anemia?

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited condition that results in the body producing improperly formed red blood cells, which can be harmful to the functioning of the cardiovascular system. Symptoms of sickle cell anemia may include pain, swollen hands and feet, a lessened ability to fight off infections, and more. As this condition requires medical care, you should discuss with your doctor the severity of your sickle cell anemia, as well as if and how it can be treated.

Do I have the symptoms of anemia?

While the symptoms can vary according to the type of anemia that a person has, they will often include pallor, fatigue, and even headaches and dizziness. Further anemia symptoms may include an irregular heartbeat, breathlessness, chest pains, and trouble thinking. The worse the case of anemia is, the worse the symptoms are likely to be. If you are suffering from the symptoms of anemia, schedule an appointment with your doctor in order to undergo the proper testing and receive an official diagnosis and treatment. 

If I have anemia, what treatments will I need?

The treatments for anemia vary based on the underlying cause of each anemia case. In some cases, anemia may be treated with a simple change in diet. In other cases, blood transfusions, medication, and other medical interventions may be necessary. Ask your doctor what kind of anemia you have, and what kind of treatments will improve your condition.

What causes pernicious anemia?

Pernicious anemia is caused by the inability of the stomach to absorb vitamin B12, which is necessary for the production of red blood cells. This inability occurs when there isn't enough of a protein called the intrinsic factor, or IF, in the stomach. The intrinsic factor allows the absorption of B12. There are two likely causes of pernicious anemia. The first is atrophic gastritis, and the second is an autoimmune condition wherein the body attacks IF or the cells that produce IF. Occasionally, this condition is hereditary. If you have pernicious anemia, ask your doctor about its root cause in order to better understand your condition and how it can be treated.

Is my chronic illness causing my anemia?

Some chronic illnesses may cause anemia. If you have a chronic illness, and you are suffering from anemia, discuss your conditions with your doctor in order to determine the true cause of your anemia, and how it can be treated.

How do I know what is causing my anemia?

If your doctor finds that you have anemia, they may need to conduct further tests to discover the cause of your anemia. These possible tests may vary in type, depending on the symptoms you show.