Low hemoglobin count is a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When the hemoglobin count is low, the body doesn’t get enough oxygen, leading to several health problems.
Symptoms of low hemoglobin count include fatigue, shortness of breath, pale skin, and a rapid heartbeat. While low hemoglobin count can be caused by several factors, including poor nutrition, chronic disease, and certain medications, it is important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms.
In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for low hemoglobin counts and provide tips for improving your hemoglobin levels naturally.
What Does It Mean When Your Hemoglobin Is Low?
When your hemoglobin is low, it means that you have a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells or less hemoglobin than normal in your blood. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. When your hemoglobin level is low, your body may not get enough oxygen to function properly.
What is a Normal Hemoglobin Count?
The average Hemoglobin count differs in every individual — Your hemoglobin count changes with age, gender, and certain people.
The normal hemoglobin ranges are:
- Newborns: 17 to 22 gm/dL
- For Men: the average hemoglobin range is between 13.5 to 17.5 grams per deciliter.
- For Women: the average hemoglobin range is between 12.3 and 15.3 gm/dL
What is a Low Hemoglobin Number(Explanation)
- For men, the hemoglobin count falls below 13.5 grams of hemoglobin per deciliter (135 grams per liter) of blood.
- When the count falls below 12 grams per deciliter (120 grams per liter) for women.
In children, low hemoglobin count may vary with sex and age. Women that are pregnant and women having their menstrual period usually have lower hemoglobin counts.
What is a dangerous level of low hemoglobin?
The danger level of low hemoglobin varies depending on the underlying cause and the individual’s overall health. Generally, a hemoglobin level below 7 grams per deciliter (g/dL) is considered severe anemia and may require urgent medical attention.
Severe anemia can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, and dizziness.
Symptoms of Low Hemoglobin Count
Low hemoglobin count can cause a variety of symptoms. Here are some common symptoms:
- Fatigue and weakness: Anemia can make you feel tired and weak, even after enough rest.
- Shortness of breath: If your body is not getting enough oxygen due to low hemoglobin, you may experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
- Pale skin: Low hemoglobin can cause your skin to become pale or yellowish.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness: Anemia can cause a drop in blood pressure, which can lead to feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Headaches: Low hemoglobin can cause headaches or migraines.
- Cold hands and feet: If your body is not getting enough oxygen, your extremities may feel cold to the touch.
- Chest pain: In severe cases of anemia, you may experience chest pain or angina.
10 Common Causes of Low Hemoglobin Count
1. Iron Deficiency Anemia
This is the most common cause of low hemoglobin count. It occurs when the body doesn’t have enough iron to produce hemoglobin, which is needed to carry oxygen in the blood.
2. Vitamin Deficiency Anemia
This occurs when the body doesn’t have enough vitamin B12 or folate to produce red blood cells. This can happen due to poor diet, malabsorption, or certain medical conditions.
3. Chronic Kidney Disease
When the kidneys are not functioning properly, they can’t produce enough erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells. This can lead to anemia.
4. Hemolytic Anemia
This occurs when the red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be produced. This can be caused by certain medications, infections, autoimmune diseases, or inherited conditions.
5. Aplastic Anemia
This is a rare condition where the bone marrow does not produce enough red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It can be caused by certain medications, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or autoimmune diseases.
This is an inherited condition where the body can’t produce enough normal hemoglobin. There are two types of thalassemia, alpha and beta, which can cause anemia.
7. Sickle Cell Anemia
This is an inherited condition where the red blood cells are shaped like sickles, which can cause blockages in the blood vessels and reduce the amount of oxygen that can be carried in the blood. This can cause anemia and other complications.
8. Gastrointestinal Bleeding
Chronic or acute bleeding in the digestive tract can cause anemia. This can happen due to ulcers, tumors, or inflammatory bowel disease.
During pregnancy, the body needs more iron to support the growing fetus. If a woman doesn’t get enough iron, it can lead to anemia.
10. Heavy menstrual bleeding
Women with heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding are at risk of developing anemia, especially if they have other risk factors such as iron deficiency.
It’s important to note that there are many other less common causes of low hemoglobin count, and a doctor can help determine the underlying cause and recommend the appropriate treatment.
Best Treatment for Low Hemoglobin Count
How to fix low hemoglobin? This usually depends on the underlying cause. Fortunately, you can treat low mean corpuscular hemoglobin in most cases by making simple lifestyle and dietary changes, especially if you have iron or vitamin-based anemia.
1. Consuming more iron
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common cause of low hemoglobin. Therefore, taking iron-containing foods can effectively improve symptoms.
Iron-rich vegetables mainly include radishes, broccoli, spinach, and kale. You can also eat more liver, eggs, oysters, beef, dried beans, molasses, peanut butter, pork, and whole grains. In addition, dried fruits such as raisins, plums, and dried apricots are good sources of iron.
2. Increasing folate intake
Your body needs a particular type of vitamin B called folate. The folate produces heme, an essential component of hemoglobin that carries oxygen around the body.
When your body lacks adequate folate, your red blood cells won’t reach maturity. This, in turn, affects the production of hemoglobin cells and could lead to folate-deficiency anemia.
You can boost your folate by taking foods including:
- Kidney beans
- Black-eyed peas
3. Optimizing iron absorption
While taking in foods or supplements rich in iron can boost your hemoglobin count levels, if your body cannot absorb iron properly, the levels may fall just as fast as it rises.
You can optimize your iron intake by consuming foods that help your body absorb iron. Consuming foods rich in vitamin C helps your body absorb iron and boosts hemoglobin levels.
Leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and strawberries are excellent Vitamin C sources. Vitamin A supplements and beta-carotene can help your body absorb and use iron.
Foods that contain vitamin A include:
- Sweet potatoes
4. Taking iron supplements
Taking iron supplements can help improve the symptoms. Your hemoglobin count will gradually increase over a few weeks as you take the recommended accessories.
However, taking too much iron at once can be counter-effective. Overdosing in iron can cause hemochromatosis and liver disease. In addition, it can also cause constipation, nausea, and vomiting.
5. Treat the underlying condition
If your anemia results from a chronic disease, your doctor will treat the underlying condition. Usually, taking care of the underlying disease will improve your hemoglobin count.
In some rare cases, when the symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend a blood transfusion or injections of a synthetic hormone (erythropoietin) that might help stimulate red blood cell production and ease fatigue.
- Aplastic anemia
Specific medications and chemotherapy can help to treat aplastic anemia. You may require a blood transfusion to increase the number of red blood cells.
If your bone marrow cannot produce healthy red blood cells, your doctor may have surgery for a bone marrow transplant.
- Hemolytic anemia
Mild hemolytic anemia may not require treatment if the symptoms don’t worsen. Severe hemolytic can be life-threatening if not treated correctly and usually requires ongoing treatment.
To treat chronic hemolytic anemia, the patient may require medications that suppress the immune system, which could attack her red blood cells. You may also need blood transfusions, bone marrow transplants, or surgery.
When should you see a doctor?
If you are experiencing symptoms of anemia, such as fatigue, weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath, or pale skin, you should see a doctor. Low hemoglobin count can have many underlying causes, some of which can be serious, so it’s important to get a proper evaluation and diagnosis.
In addition, if you have a medical condition or are taking medications that can affect your red blood cell count, you should discuss with your doctor whether you need regular blood tests to monitor your hemoglobin levels.
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it’s important to get regular prenatal care, including blood tests, to check your hemoglobin levels. Anemia during pregnancy can increase the risk of complications for both the mother and baby, so it’s important to address it promptly.
Q: How is low hemoglobin count diagnosed?
A: A low hemoglobin count is diagnosed through a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC). The CBC measures the number of red blood cells, hemoglobin, and other blood components.
Q: Can low hemoglobin count be prevented?
A: In some cases, low hemoglobin count can be prevented by maintaining a healthy diet rich in iron and other essential nutrients, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and treating underlying medical conditions that can cause anemia.
It’s important to speak with a doctor about any concerns related to low hemoglobin count and to follow recommended preventative measures.
Q: Is low hemoglobin count dangerous?
A: In some cases, low hemoglobin count can be dangerous if left untreated or if the underlying cause is serious. Anemia can lead to complications such as fatigue, shortness of breath, heart problems, and other health issues. It’s important to address low hemoglobin count promptly to prevent potential complications.