Anemia and Cystic Fibrosis
My doctor says I have anemia. What exactly does this mean? Can this condition be cured easily? Would certain changes in lifestyle, such as diet, help solve the problem?
Anemia is defined as a reduction of red blood cells in the blood. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. They also transport carbon dioxide, one of the body’s waste products, from the tissues to the lungs. A low red blood cell count can cause fatigue, pale skin and shortness of breath during minor physical exertion.
It is important to realize that there are several causes of anemia. It could stem from deficient red blood cell production in the bone marrow, which is often related to a lack of nutrients such as iron, folic acid or vitamin B12. The lack of nutrients may be due to poor nutrition, but also to malabsorption in the digestive tract or recurrent blood loss (heavy bleeding during menstruation). Anemia can also occur in certain diseases of the blood or immune system, where red blood cells are destroyed faster than the body can produce them.
To cure anemia, the problem must be treated at the source. Iron deficiency can be rectified with iron supplements, and vitamin deficiencies require a similar approach. Proper nutrition based on the clinic’s dietary advice and regular intake of pancreatic enzymes are the most important measures in preventing anemia. Given the multiple causes of anemia, however, regular blood tests at the clinic will lead to early detection and treatment before the anemia becomes serious and symptomatic.