Anemia is a disorder that occurs when your blood is short on red blood cells. It is the most common blood disorder and affects around 1.62 billion people globally, nearly a quarter of the world’s population. Here are the risks, symptoms, and best treatments for the blood disorder so you can be prepared in case you or a loved is diagnosed.

Red blood cells play an important role in circulating oxygen throughout the body and taking carbon dioxide from other parts of the body to the lungs so it can be exhaled. According to the Mayo Clinic, anemia occurs for several reasons: your body doesn't make enough red blood cells to begin with; bleeding caused you to lose red blood cells more quickly than they could be replaced; or your body destroyed red blood cells.


While nearly a quarter of the world’s population have anemia at some point in their lives, some people have a higher risk than others. For example, according to the National Institute of Health, women of childbearing age are at higher risk because of blood loss from menstruation.

Pregnant women are also at increased risk, as pregnancy changes levels of iron and folic acid, which are necessary for producing blood. Pregnancy can also change the blood itself, causing the plasma in blood to increase faster than the number of red blood cells, which can in turn dilute the blood and lead to anemia.

According to the NIH, babies under one are also at increased risk for developing anemia, especially those who are born prematurely, or those who are fed breast milk only or formula which isn't fortified with iron.


In very mild cases of anemia, individuals may have no symptoms at all. However, according to Medical News Today, the most common symptom of anemia is a general feeling of fatigue and lack of energy. The condition is also commonly associated with paleness of the skin, fast or irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, and lightheadedness. Symptoms can worsen as the disorder worsens, so it's best to see a doctor at the first sign.


Treatments for anemia aim to increase the number of red blood cells in the body. In some cases, this can be done through dietary means by increasing your intake of iron, B12, and folic acid. That is because all these nutrients play a role in the production of healthy red blood cells.

A doctor may also prescribe certain medications that also help to stimulate the production of red blood cells. In some cases, addressing the underlying reason for anemia can be useful, MNT reported. For example, for women whose anemia is due to heavy menstrual periods, medications to help regulate periods can often succeed in keeping anemia at bay.

Usually, anemia has to be diagnosed by a doctor’s blood test. Recently, however, engineers created, HemaApp, a smartphone app that uses the phone’s built-in light and camera to monitor blood hemoglobin levels.