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How To Diagnose Anemia

by:  in Category : Common Health Issues

13 April, 2012

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How To Diagnose AnemiaAnemia is a state in which the hemoglobin level is below the normal range for the age and sex of the individual. At birth, hemoglobin is 20g/dl. Newborn infants are said to be anemic if hemoglobin level is less than 15g/dl.

At 3 months, lower limit of normal range is taken as 9.5g/dl. A hemoglobin level of 12g/dl or less is usually regarded as anemia in an adult male, while hemoglobin less than 11g/dl is taken as anemia in an adult female.

How to Diagnose Anemia

A physician will diagnose anemia after obtaining the full medical and family history, performing a physical examination and from various blood tests and procedures.

Medical And Family History

Full medical history pertaining to different general and specific signs and symptoms is obtained from the patient by the doctor. Doctor will also ask the patient about the family medical history, medicaments taken and diet intake.

Physical Examination

Doctor will examine the color of skin, conjunctiva and nails and will look for changes in papillae of tongue, retina, spleen, liver and lymph nodes. Pallor is the most characteristic sign which can be seen in skin and conjunctiva in anemic patients. Enlargement of spleen, liver and lymph nodes can also take place in anemia. Rectal or pelvic examination is done for evidence of bleeding.

Blood Tests

Blood tests are done to confirm the presence of anemia and to determine the cause and type of anemia. The first and foremost investigation in any suspected case of anemia is to carry out hemoglobin estimation. If the hemoglobin value is below the lower limit of the normal range for particular age and sex, then the patient is said to be anemic.

Peripheral Blood Film Examination

It is done after hemoglobin estimation. Variation in size or shape of red blood cells is seen. In case of iron deficiency anemia and thalassemia, red cells in blood film are smaller than normal red blood cells.

In vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency anemia and aplastic anemia, red cells larger than normal cells are found in blood film. Increased variation in shape of the red blood cells is seen in anemia.

How To Diagnose Anemia

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In severe type of anemia’s, abnormal nucleated red cells will be present in peripheral blood film. Fragmentation of red blood cells is found in thalassemia, iron deficiency anemia and hemolytic anemia.

Red Cell Indices Measurement

It is another method to diagnose and detect the severity of anemia. To distinguish blood loss anemia with other types of anemia, white blood cells and platelet count is also measured. In blood loss anemia, white blood cells and platelet counts are often elevated.

Reticulocyte Count

Measurement of immature red blood cells is done in blood film. This test determines whether the bone marrow is producing red cells at correct rate or not.

Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)

It is a non-specific test used as a screening test for anemia. Anemia causes rise in ESR.

Bone Marrow Examination

Bone marrow examination is done only in rare cases where the cause for anemia is not obvious. Bone marrow aspiration is done in this procedure. Anemia has many causes and in addition to these general tests, certain specific tests are done in different types of anemia. Tests for vitamin deficiency and level of iron in blood may also be done to reach a confirm diagnosis.

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