A list of illnesses with a blood sample labeled anemia

What is anaemia and what are the different types?

03 Feb 2023


If you often find yourself tired and low on energy, those late nights in front of the TV may not be completely to blame. Anaemia could actually be the reason you wake up feeling red-eyed and weary every morning. Keep reading to discover more about the two main types of this condition.

How does anaemia zap your energy?

In the body, red blood cells store and carry oxygen around using a substance called haemoglobin. Anaemia is when there is a low amount of haemoglobin in each red blood cell or there are less healthy blood cells than normal. Our organs and tissues need enough oxygen to work properly, and without it we are left feeling tired and weak. There are several different types of anaemia caused by different factors. They range from inherited conditions like sickle cell anaemia to other, typically milder, forms caused by iron or vitamin b12 deficiency.

What is iron deficiency anaemia?

The most common type of anaemia, iron deficiency anaemia, is caused by a lack of iron in the body which leads to fewer red blood cells. This is because iron is an essential element our bodies need to produce haemoglobin. A shortage of iron can be due to blood loss from an ulcer, cancer or heavy menstrual bleeding or regularly using aspirin and some other over-the-counter painkillers. This form of anaemia is common in pregnant women or people who do not get enough iron from their diets.

What is vitamin deficiency anaemia?

As well as iron, our bodies also need vitamin b12 and b9 (also known as folate) to produce healthy red blood cells. A shortage of these nutrients can lead to fewer red blood cells being produced or unusually large red blood cells that don’t function normally. For some people this shortage is due to a lack of these vitamins in the diet, but for many others an autoimmune condition means their bodies are unable to absorb vitamin B12. This condition, known as pernicious anaemia, is the most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency in the UK.

Now that you’re clued up on anaemia, book in with your GP if you think you or someone you know may have it.

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