Blood contains red blood cells that are the carriers of Oxygen to all the body parts (tissues, muscles, organs including brain). When the ability of the red blood cells to carry/supply oxygen to other body parts, the tissues or muscles start to die. Even when there is not enough production of red blood cells in the body, there will be a short supply of oxygen in the body.
Lack of red blood cells in blood is called Anemia and when the condition is worse, it is termed ‘Severe Anemia’.
What causes severe anemia in a person?
- Iron deficiency. Iron is an important mineral in the body that helps in production of red blood cells. Red blood cells are made in the bone marrow and lack of iron hampers the production of RBC.
- Lack of other vitamins – Folate and vitamin B12 are also needed for healthy production of red blood cells. Deficiency of folate or B12 leads to anemia.
- Gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac Disease etc can cause poor production of red blood cells.
- If you are sticking to a particular diet and if the diet doesn’t contain Iron, that can lead to anemia.
- Chronic diseases such as Rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, irritable bowel problems etc can also affect the production of red blood cells.
- Diseases such as leukemia or myelofibrosis that affect the bone marrow affect the production of RBC.
- Sickle Cell Anemia – Normal shape of red blood cells is round/circular so that they can flow through the blood easily. In people suffering from sickle cell anemia, the shape of the red blood cell changes to the shape of crescent moon. This is not an ideal shape to flow through the blood. As a result, the supply of oxygen decreases across the body. They also become rigid and sticky.
What happens to people suffering from anemia?
Symptoms and signs of anemia include:
- Weakness & Fatigue even after having enough sleep or rest.
- Irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain.
- Pale yellow skin due to low RBC
- Cold hands and feet
- Craving for Ice
- Brittle nails or hair loss.
How HBOT can help people suffering from anemia?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a procedure where the patient/person is made to sit/lie down in a chamber filled with 100% Oxygen at 2 to 3 times the normal atmospheric pressure. As more Oxygen is taken in at higher pressures, more oxygen gets dissolved in the red blood cells and also in blood plasma and gets distributed to body organs, even with the existing lower number of RBC.
This ensures that every cell and organ of the body gets enough oxygen to survive and perform optimally. This brings back the body to safe zone until the actual treatment (to treat the cause of anemia) takes effect. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is the first line of treatment in patients suffering from Sickle Cell Anemia.