What is Anemia?
Anemia is type of a blood disorder in which there is reduced amount of red blood cells produced in the body which leads to the lack of ability of the body to transport oxygen to various parts of the body through the bloodstream which in turn causes a variety of symptoms. Lack of iron in the body is termed to be the main cause of Anemia. Although there are many other causes which may lead to lack of the body to produce enough red blood cells. Anemia is normally seen in women due to their body anatomy but there have been cases where anemia has been seen in men as well. This article gives an in depth knowledge about the various causes of Anemia in Men and their treatment options.
What are the Causes of Anemia in Men?
Below mentioned are some of the causes of Anemia in Men:
Internal Bleeding: This is one of the common causes for Anemia in Men. Internal bleeding can be caused due to many reasons and in some cases internal bleeding remains undiagnosed until the condition becomes severe and several tests are done. Anemia is basically caused by excessive loss of blood. This loss of blood can be external as well as internal. Internal bleeding most commonly takes place in the gastrointestinal lining which is caused due to ulcers. Another cause for internal bleeding is use of blood thinners like aspirin and coumadin. In some cases tumors can also cause internal bleeding leading to Anemia in Men.
Hemorrhoids: Hemorrhoids are yet another cause for bleeding resulting in Anemia in Men. Bleeding from hemorrhoids can be both external as well as internal. People with hemorrhoids will experience rectal bleeding or bleeding with stools leading to excessive loss of blood which causes Anemia in Men.
Insufficient Iron: An individual who has a low intake of iron can also have Anemia. Iron is the main element responsible for production of red blood cells and if there is less iron in the body then it is obvious that there will be less production of red blood cells which in turn causes Anemia in Men.
Insufficient Iron Absorption: This is yet another cause for Anemia in Men. Certain individual have a weak digestive system which is not able to absorb iron from food the way it should leading to less iron in the body. The best example of such a condition is celiac disease.
What are the Symptoms of Anemia in Men?
The symptoms of Anemia in Men are so similar to certain other disorders that it is extremely difficult to differentiate between them and the condition is only diagnosed after a blood test is done. Some of the symptoms that can be experienced by Anemia in Men are:
- Frequent headaches
- Shortness of breath
- Decreased body temperature
- Chest pain
- Pale skin
- Brittle nails
- Having frequent infections.
What are the Different Types of Anemia in Men and What are Their Causes?
The different types of Anemia in Men are:
Iron Deficiency Anemia: This is the most common form of Anemia in Men. This type of anemia is caused due to low iron content in the body. This may be due to low iron intake in the form of iron rich foods or it may be due to the body’s inability to absorb iron fully. This type of anemia in men can also be caused by taking excessive pain medications, blood loss due to ulcer, and malignant tumors.
Vitamin Deficiency Anemia: Apart from iron, the body also requires sufficient supply of folate and vitamin B12 to produce adequate amount of red blood cells required by the body to function normally. If the diet of an individual lacks these products then that individual may be prone to anemia. In some cases, an individual may have adequate intake of vitamins but the body is unable to absorb these vitamins for its use, then this may also lead to low production of red blood cells causing Anemia in Men.
Anemia of Chronic Disease: Certain medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, Crohn’s disease, and certain inflammatory conditions may affect the production of red blood cells causing Anemia in Men.
Aplastic Anemia: This is perhaps the most dangerous type of anemia found in men. This type of anemia is caused due to certain infections, prolonged exposure to certain toxins and some classes of medications.
Anemia in Men Due to Bone Marrow Diseases: Certain conditions of the bone marrow like myelofibrosis and leukemia causes lack of production of red blood cells in the body leading to Anemia in Men.
Hemolytic Anemia: This is yet another type of Anemia in Men. This type of anemia is caused when the red blood cells in the body are destroyed faster than they are replaced by the bone marrow. This destruction of red blood cells is caused by certain blood disorders. Some studies suggest a genetic link to this condition.
Sickle Cell Anemia: This is a type of inherited hemolytic anemia in which the hemoglobin takes the shape of a sickle and dies prematurely resulting in severe shortage of red blood cells causing Anemia in Men.
What are the Treatment Options for Different Types Anemia in Men?
Based on what type of anemia an individual has, the treatment plan is formulated. Some of the treatment options for different types of Anemia in Men are:
Treatment for Iron Deficiency Anemia in Men: Iron supplementation is usually the mainstay of treatment for this form of anemia in men. Iron supplementation may be given in the form of pills or dietary methods. The individual will be referred to a nutritionist who will formulate a dietary regimen rich in iron intake to supplement the lack of iron in the body. In cases of internal bleeding causing iron deficiency anemia in men, the physician will make a thorough investigation in the form of laboratory and radiological studies to find a cause for the condition and then formulate a treatment plan. In case if blood thinners are a cause for internal bleeding then the physician may switch dose or alter the medication in order to stop the bleeding and treat iron deficiency anemia in men. In some cases, iron is supplemented intravenously so that it bypasses the digestive tract and prevents any complications.
Treatment for Vitamin Deficiency Anemia in Men: As stated above, lack of folate and vitamin B12 is also one of the causes of Anemia in Men. This type of anemia is mostly seen in the elderly population, people who abuse alcohol or recreational drugs, or people who have had a recent gastrointestinal surgery. Such people are given folic acid supplements and vitamin b12 injections to overcome the problem and treat Anemia in Men.
Treatment for Anemia of Chronic Diseases: Anemia caused by chronic diseases like HIV or cancer can be treated when the underlying cause is treated which in this case is cancer or HIV. For men with HIV if the viral load comes under control then the anemia also resolves to certain degree and for cancer patients once the primary cancer is removed and the patient is in remission then the patient can be given iron supplements to treat Anemia.
Treatment for Hemolytic Anemia in Men: This type of Anemia in Men is caused by medical conditions like sickle cell disease or thalassemia. Treatment for this is usually blood transfusion on a periodic basis until the condition comes under control. For treatment of inherited blood disorders like Hemolytic Anemia and other disorders of the blood it is imperative that the physician monitors the patient closely for any potential complications arising due to anemia. Steroids or hormones may be given to boost cell production. To treat infections arising out of anemia, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat those.
In summary, Anemia in Men is not that common but in case if you suspect you may be having this condition or you may have inherited this condition then it is recommended that you consult with a physician as soon as possible to start getting treated.