Hemoglobin which is sometimes abbreviated as Hb or Hgb, is the iron-containing oxygen-transport component of the Red Blood Cells or RBCs of all vertebrates. Hemoglobin a type of metalloprotein carries oxygen from the respiratory organs (lungs) to the rest of the body (i.e., the tissues) where it releases the oxygen. This oxygen is then used to burn nutrients to provide energy to power the functions of the organism. Later it collects the resultant carbon dioxide to bring it back to the respiratory organs to be released out from the organism.

Functions of Hemoglobin

  • Carry oxygen
  • Carry Carbon Dioxide
  • Carry Nitric Oxide

Hemoglobin has an oxygen binding capacity and on average hemoglobin molecule can bind (carry) up to four oxygen molecules. Sometimes Hemoglobin is involved in the transport of other gases: it carries some of the body’s respiratory carbon dioxide as carbaminohemoglobin, in which CO2 is bound to the globin protein. The molecule also carries the important regulatory molecule nitric oxide bound to a globin protein thiol group, releasing it at the same time as oxygen.

Structure of Hemoglobin

  • Hemoglobin is made of protein
  • Protein is made of amino acid or polypeptide
  • Polypeptide sequence depends on DNA

Hemoglobin is primarily made of protein or the “globin” chain. These proteins are folded chains of a large number of different amino acids called polypeptides. The sequence of this polypeptide is determined by the stretches of DNA called genes.

Mutations of hemoglobin

  • Sickle Cell diseases
  • Thalassemias

Mutations in the genes for the hemoglobin protein may result in hemoglobin variants, however many of these mutant forms of hemoglobin cause no disease. But some of these mutant forms of hemoglobin do result in a group of hereditary diseases termed the hemoglobinopathies. The best known hemoglobinopathy is sickle-cell disease, which was the first human disease whose mechanism was understood at the molecular level. Another set of disease called thalassemia is also a result of underproduction of normal and sometimes abnormal hemoglobins. All these diseases produce anemia.

Blood is a very important component of a human body and it plays an important function in the circulatory system inside the body.

There are two types of blood cells:

  • Red Blood Cells (RBC)
  • White Blood Cells (WBC)

The two types of cells are differentiated on the basis of their functions.

  • RBCs are the blood cells that carry oxygen to different parts of the body.
  • WBCs are the blood cells that provide immunity power to the body.

The RBCs have a component, hemoglobin and it is this hemoglobin, which enables these cells to transport oxygen from the lungs to other parts. Hemoglobin gives the cell its red color. The mature red blood cells (RBC) are a non-nucleated biconcave disk.

Human body consists of millions & millions of these little disc-shaped cells. In RBC count the number, size and shape of the RBCs are determine, which is useful in the diagnosis of anemia and its type.

According to medical science in normal condition Adult humans have roughly 2–3 × 1013 (20-30 trillion) red blood cells at any given time. This is approximately one fourth of the total body cell. Though the number may slightly vary in women and they have about 4 to 5 million RBCs per cubic millimeter of blood while men have about 5 to 6 million; Even the location has an impact on the RBC count and people living at high altitudes with low oxygen tension will have more).

Red blood cells are thus much more common than the other blood particles: there are about 4,000–11,000 white blood cells and about 150,000–400,000 platelets in each micro liter of human blood.

As for the life cycle of the Human red blood cells, it takes on average 20 seconds to complete one cycle of circulation. As red blood cells contain no nucleus, it is assumed that protein biosynthesis is currently is not present in these cells, although some recent studies have proved on the contrary and indicates the presence of all the necessary bio-machinery in the cells to do so.

The red color from where it gets its name is due to the spectral properties of the hemic iron ions in hemoglobin.  A red blood cell (RBC) count is a useful blood test that can provide information about how many RBCs are there in a person’s blood. It is  the number of RBCs per volume of blood and is reported in either millions in a micro liter or millions in a liter of blood.

The normal range of RBC count is:

  • Women: 4.2 to 5.4 million/ul
  • Men: 4.7 to 6.1 million/ul
  • Children; 4.6 to 4.8 million/ul

Iron deficiency is medically known as Sideroperia or Hypoferrenia. Iron is present in all cells in the human body and performs vital functions. For example it acts as a carrier of oxygen. Along with this it is also a medium for transporting electrons and is an integral part of enzyme reactions in various tissues.

So, deficiency of iron can hamper these important functions and can even lead to premature death. During a day iron present in the body gets consumed and when the loss of iron is not properly compensated by adequate intake of iron from the diet, a state of iron deficiency develops and when this condition is not checked, it leads to a condition that is known as iron deficiency anemia.

Some of the common causes of iron deficiency are

  • Chronic bleeding
  • Lack of nutrition
  • Inadequate intake of dietary iron
  • Malabsorption syndrome
  • Excessive blood donation

Some common signs and symptoms of iron deficiency are:

  • Fatigue
  • Paleness
  • Hair loss
  • Weakness
  • Low immunity

Iron deficiency can have serious health consequences and it should not be ignored. In iron deficiency anemia what happens is that a very important component of blood hemoglobin cannot be formed as it contains iron. To prevent this condition one should have a proper intake of dietary iron and food.

Anemia is a disease caused due to the lack of red blood cells or RBC in the blood of a human body. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the various parts of the body and thus are the vital part in blood. The common symptoms of anemia are tiredness, pale skin and dizziness. These symptoms did not become clear until the condition gets worse and the only way to detect this disease is through blood test.

  1. Deficiency of Vitamin B12– Vitamin B12 directly impacts the production of hemoglobin and thus lack of Vitamin B12 in a human’s diet can lead to anemia. Vitamin B12 is mainly found in non vegetarian food so the chances of its deficiency in vegetarian are more in compare to non vegetarians. The deficiency of vitamin B12 can also be due to the lack of ability of absorbing Vitamin B12 from stomach’s wall. Anemia due to the deficiency of vitamin B12 is more common in people having diabetic problem, person suffering from thyroid and ages more than 40.
  2. Deficiency of Iron– The daily iron requirement of body to produce optimum amount of hemoglobin is 1mg which if not met can lead to anemia. The reason behind deficiency of iron can be improper diet and it usually happens in women who are menstruating heavily. The other reasons which can lead to deficiency of iron are hemorrhoids, ulcer, chronic ulcer and chronic bleeding of gums.
  3. Hemolysis – It happens when red blood vessels starts to break because of toxin, poison or immune reaction.
  4. Blood Loss– Blood loss is common in women who are heavily menstruating and can leads to anemia if proper care is not taken.
  5. Reduction in cell production by Bone marrow– Bone marrow is a soft and fatty tissue which is found inside the bones of body. In case due to any reason bone marrow malfunctions or becomes defective than it can lead to abnormality in the production of mature blood cells thus resulting in less production of red blood cells or increase in the loss of red blood cells in the body.
  6. Cancer Therapy– The treatment procedure like chemotherapy used in curing cancer effects the production of red blood cells of bones which decreases the oxygen carrying capacity resulting in anemia.
  7. Excessive intake of alcohol– Excessive intake of alcohol can lead to deficiency of vitamin in the body and the person ends up with Anemia. Alcohol is a stimulant thus it is recommended that men should not take more than two drinks a day and one drink a day for women.
  8. Smoking–It is worldwide known that Smoking causes the reduction of oxygen levels in blood cells and also cause blockage in the absorption of vital nutrients like vitamin c and folate acid which increases the risk of anemia caused due to the deficiency of vitamin.
  9. Kidney Diseases– Erythropoietin is a hormone released by kidney which helps in the production of red blood cells. The body of a person who is suffering from chronic kidney disease release less amount of erythropoietin which in turn reduces the production of red blood cells thus causing anemia.
  10. Chronic Diseases– Anemia can also be caused to a person who is suffering from any type of chronic disease.  Science has not yet uncovered the exact mechanism but it is been medically proven that any prolong medical condition can lead to Anemia.

There are several other less common causes which lead to anemia. These causes are parasitic infections, insecticide exposure, lead poisoning, liver diseases, autoimmune diseases, AIDS, malaria, viral hepatitis.

A common disorder of the red blood cells is known as Anemia. The Greek word Anemia means “without blood.” Anemia is a condition in which an abnormally low number of red blood cells circulate in the body.

Generally speaking, it is the most common disorder of the red blood cells and has many symptoms and signs.

Fatigue, weakness, tiredness and uneasiness are very common symptoms of Anemia. A person with anemia will feel tired and weak because the body’s tissues are being starved of oxygen. Actually, fatigue is the main symptom of most types of anemia.

The severity of symptoms is partly related to the severity of anemia. Mild anemia occurs without symptoms and can only be detected during a medical examination including a blood test.

Common symptoms of anemia are:

  • Fainting
  • Breathlessness
  • Heart palpitations (rapid or irregular beating)
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Tinnitus
  • Hair loss
  • Sleep disorder
  • Lack of concentration
  • Low energy
  • Lightheadedness
  • Pale complexion
  • Low blood pressure
  • Abnormal menstruation

Some symptoms and signs depend on the reasons of the anemia as well. These can include spoon-shaped finger nails and toenails in iron-deficiency anemia, mild jaundice in hemolytic anemia, and leg ulcers in sickle cell anemia.

According to the experts, because a low red blood cell count decreases oxygen supply to each tissue in the body, anemia may cause a variety of signs and symptoms. It can also make almost any other underlying medical condition worse. If anemia is mild, it may not cause any symptoms. If anemia is chronic, the body may adapt and compensate for the change; in this case there may not be any symptoms until the anemia becomes very severe.

Symptoms of severe anemia are:

  • Chest pain
  • Angina
  • Heart attack
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Death

It is worth noting that if anemia is longstanding (chronic anemia), the body may adjust to low oxygen levels and the individual may not feel different unless the anemia becomes severe. On the other hand, if the anemia occurs rapidly (acute anemia), the patient may experience significant symptoms relatively quickly.

The victims are mostly women and old age persons. However, it is not a disease in itself but a condition that originates from below-normal levels of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Hemoglobin is the iron-containing pigment of the red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.

A healthy person has about 5 million red cells in every cubic millimeter of blood. Each cell contains a protein (hemoglobin) that carries oxygen through the body. The process of creating and recycling red blood cells is exceptionally complex. If the red blood cells fail to effectively transport oxygen throughout the body, anemia can result.

Generally, Anemia is described as a condition where a person does not have appropriate number of red blood cells (RBCs) in the blood. In other words a person with low blood count is considered by physicians as anemic. According to doctors there are three types of anemia arising from the RBC count. This classification is done depending upon the size of the RBCs that are microcytic, normocytic and macrocytic anemia.

  • Microcytic Anemia: This condition is when the RBCs are less than normal. The main reasons of microcytic anemia are iron deficiency or inappropriate level of iron in the body. Sometimes a person suffers from Microcytic Anemia when he has Thalassemia, it is an inherited disorder of hemoglobin.
  • Normocytic Anemia: In this the RBCs are normal in size but are less in number. It is mostly accompanied with chronic diseases or this type of anemia connected with the kidney disease.
  • Macrocytic: Here the RBCs are bigger than normal the main cause of this is anemia is alcoholism.

Another thing that should be mentioned here is that in medical terms Anemia is a manifestation of a disease rather than a disease itself. The doctors generally determine the reason on the basis of the duration a person has been suffering from Anemia. It helps in determining the gravity or severity of the case and subsequent treatment as well.

In chronic cases, symptoms usually start gradually and moves forward slowly but in acute cases symptoms are normally sudden and even very more painful. In developed countries like the United States, 2% to 10% of total population is anemic. In developing countries like India this rate is even higher especially in young women and adolescent girls due to excessive menstrual bleeding and lack of adequate nutrition.

As anemia is a condition arising from the count of RBCs lets understand that these blood cells main function is to supply oxygen from the lungs to other organs of the body.

These RBCs are made within the bone marrow and many factors are involved in their production. For example,

  • Iron is a very important component of the hemoglobin molecule
  • Erythropoietin, a molecule secreted by the kidneys, promotes the formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow.

To have exact number of RBCs and prevention of anemia requires synergy between the kidneys, the bone marrow, and nutrients within the body. If they are not functioning properly and getting proper nutrition then it would be difficult to maintain adequate red blood cell count and proper functioning may be difficult to maintain.

Anemia can cause different kind of complications like:

  • Blood loss
  • Inadequate production of RBC’s
  • Nutritional problems
  • Fatigue
  • Organ Dysfunction
  • Heart Failure

Finally let’s discuss the treatments for anemia. Some of the most important treatments of anemia are:

  • Blood transfusions
  • Blood and marrow stem cell transplants
  • Oral iron transplants
  • Iron replacement therapy