Anemia, sometimes referred to as “low blood,” describes a condition that occurs when the red blood cell count within the blood is low. When the condition develops over an extended period of time, it is called chronic anemia. If the anemia has sudden onset, it is referred to as acute anemia. When anemia is acute, it usually indicates blood loss somewhere in the body, though in some cases, other conditions may be the cause.
Acute anemia is usually taken very seriously by doctors, because it could indicate a life-threatening condition. Internal bleeding resulting from the rupture of a blood vessel can sometimes cause an acute form of anemia. Sometime blood loss caused by bleeding ulcers or internal hemorrhaging can also be severe enough to cause sudden anemia. One of the first things doctors usually do is to try to pinpoint the cause, as this knowledge will be necessary to accurately treat the condition.
Some diseases can also cause an acute type of anemia. Some of those diseases include hemophilia, acquired platelet disorder, and hemophilic disorders that sometimes accompany lupus. In addition, acute anemia is often one of the first symptoms of leukemia.
Various methods of testing may be done to determine the exact cause of the anemia and the extent of its severity. One common method is a test of stool culture, because internal bleeding, no matter how slight, will usually show up in the stool. Stools are placed on a card that has been processed with chemicals that cause the card to turn blue if blood is detected. This type of test is called a fecal occult test. Doctors will also normally check vitamin and iron levels by taking a blood culture.
Symptoms of anemia usually vary according to the severity, but may often include weakness, sleepiness, and pallor. Some people who suffer from acute anemia complain of cold hands and feet, and may often feel dizzy and disoriented. Fainting spells and memory are not uncommon in people suffering from the condition. With chronic anemia, symptoms usually develop very slowly, and may go unnoticed for quite some time, however, with acute anemia, the symptoms are usually sudden and intense.
Both acute and chronic anemia typically require prompt treatment. This condition could require immediate blood transfusions to bring up the red blood cell count. In conjunction with transfusions, most people who suffer from acute anemia are advised to take iron supplements and to begin eating iron-rich foods. Iron is believed to be essential in raising red blood cell levels.