What is anemia?Anemia is a common blood disorder that occurs when there are fewer red blood cells than normal, or there is a low concentration of hemoglobin in the blood.
- hemoglobin - the part of blood that distributes oxygen from the lungs to tissues in the body.
- hematocrit - the measurement of the percentage of red blood cells found in a specific volume of blood.
- excessive blood loss or hemorrhaging
- deficient production of red blood cells
- excessive red blood cell destruction
- both decreased production and excessive destruction of red blood cells
What are the symptoms of anemia in children?Most symptoms of anemia are a result of the decrease of oxygen in the cells or "hypoxia." Because red blood cells, as hemoglobin, carry oxygen, a decreased production or number of these cells result in "hypoxia." Many of the symptoms will not be present with mild anemia, as the body can often compensate for gradual changes in hemoglobin.
The following are the most common symptoms for anemia. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. The symptoms may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- abnormal paleness or lack of color of the skin
- increased heart rate (tachycardia)
- breathlessness, or difficulty catching a breath (dyspnea)
- lack of energy, or tiring easily (fatigue)
- dizziness, or vertigo especially when standing
- irregular menstruation cycles
- absent or delayed menstruation (amenorrhea)
- sore or swollen tongue (glossitis)
- jaundice, or yellowing of skin, eyes, and mouth
- enlarged spleen or liver (splenomegaly, hepatomegaly)
- slow or delayed growth and development
- impaired wound and tissue healing
What causes pediatric anemia?Generally, anemia may be caused by several problems, including the following:
- certain diseases
- certain medications
- poor nutrition
What are the different types of anemia?
- iron deficiency anemia
- megaloblastic (pernicious) anemia
- hemolytic anemia
- sickle cell anemia
- Cooley's anemia (thalassemia)
- aplastic anemia
- chronic anemia
How is anemia diagnosed in children?Anemia may be suspected from general findings on a complete medical history and physical examination of your child, such as complaints of tiring easily, pale skin and lips, or a fast heartbeat (tachycardia). Anemia is usually discovered during a medical examination through blood tests that measure the concentration of hemoglobin and the number of red blood cells.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for anemia may include:
- additional blood tests
- bone marrow aspiration and/or biopsy - a procedure that involves taking a small amount of bone marrow fluid (aspiration) and/or solid bone marrow tissue (called a core biopsy), usually from the hip bones, to be examined for the number, size, and maturity of blood cells and/or abnormal cells.
Treatments for children with anemia:Specific treatment for anemia will be determined by your child's physician based on the following:
- your child's age, overall health, and medical history
- the extent of the anemia
- the type of anemia
- cause of the anemia
- your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the anemia
- your opinion or preference
- vitamin and mineral supplements
- change in your child's diet
- medication and/or discontinuing causative medications
- treatment of the causative disorder
- surgery to remove spleen (if related to hemolytic anemia)
- blood transfusions, if necessary (to replace significant loss)
- antibiotics (if infection is causative agent)
- bone marrow transplant (for aplastic anemia)
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