Common Health Conditions of the Elderly – Section 2 – ANAEMIA:

Elderly medical conditions

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As promised we will cover a few Common Health Conditions that might affect our Elderly and the support that can be given by the Caregivers. If you are in need of a caregiver for your loved ones. Please contact Curantis Home Carers for a Free Consultation.

Section 2 – ANAEMIA:

Anaemia is a condition that affects the amount of Haemoglobin in the blood and the levels are below the normal level in the Elderly.

Other forms of Anaemia in the Elderly can be caused by a lack of Vitamin B12 or Folic Acid in the body

 

There are various types of Anaemia and each one has a different cause such as:

Iron deficiency anaemia

Most common anaemia

Causes:

  • Chronic blood loss that is due to bleeding into or from the gut as a result of a peptic ulcer, gastritis, or haemorrhoids.
  • Decreased absorption of iron
    • after a partial or total removal of the stomach;
    • lack of stomach acid;
    • chronic diarrhoea; or
    • malabsorption

Signs and symptoms:

  • Tiredness, weakness, shortness of breath and a fast heartbeat.
  • The tongue may also become smooth, shiny and inflamed – this is called glossitis.
  • Angular stomatitis (erosion, tenderness and swelling at the corners of the mouth) may also occur.
  • In some instances, the Elderly also suffers from pica, a craving for strange foods such as starch, ice, and clay.

Treatment:

Treatment for iron-deficiency anaemia will depend on the cause and severity of the condition.
Treatments may include dietary changes and supplements, medicines, and surgery.
Severe iron-deficiency anaemia may require treatment in hospital, blood transfusions, iron rejections, or intravenous iron therapy.

 

 

 

Thalassemia

Thalassemias is an inherited blood disorder which causes the body to make fewer healthy red blood cells and less haemoglobin (an iron-rich protein in red blood cells). The two major types of thalassemia are alpha- and beta thalassemia.

Causes:

  • Haemoglobin in red blood cells has two kinds of protein chains: alpha globin and beta globin.
  • If the body doesn’t make enough of these protein chains, red blood cells don’t form properly and can’t carry enough oxygen.
  • Genes control how the body makes haemoglobin protein chains.
  • When these genes are missing or altered, thalassemias occur.
  • Thalassemia is an inherited disorder. People who get abnormal haemoglobin genes from one parent but normal genes from the other are carriers.
  • Carriers often have no signs of illness other than mild anaemia.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Symptoms of thalassemia are caused by a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream.
    This occurs because the body doesn’t make enough healthy red blood cells and haemoglobin.
  • The severity of symptoms depends on the severity of the disorder:
    People who have alpha or beta thalassemia can have mild anaemia, which can make you feel tired.
  • People with beta thalassemia intermedia have mild to moderate anaemia.
    They may also have other health problems including slowed growth and delayed puberty; bone problems; and an enlarged spleen.

Treatment

Treatment for thalassemia depends on the type and severity of the disorder.

People who are carriers or who have alpha or beta thalassemia need little or no treatment.

Three standard treatments are used to treat moderate and severe forms of thalassemia; these include blood transfusions, iron chelation therapy, and folic acid supplements.

 

 

 

 

Pernicious Anaemia

Pernicious anaemia is a condition in which the body can’t make enough healthy red blood cells because it doesn’t have enough vitamin B12 (a nutrient found in certain foods).

Elderly who have pernicious anaemia can’t absorb enough vitamin B12 due to a lack of intrinsic factor (a protein made in the stomach).

Causes:

  • A lack of intrinsic factor is a common cause of pernicious anaemia as the body can’t absorb enough vitamin B12.
  • Some pernicious anaemia occurs because the body’s small intestine can’t properly absorb vitamin B12 which may be due to the wrong bacteria in the small intestines; certain diseases that interfere with vitamin B12 absorption; certain medicines; surgical removal of part of the small intestine; and tapeworm infection.
  • Sometimes people develop pernicious anaemia because they don’t get enough vitamin B12 in their diets.

Signs and symptoms:

Apart from the symptoms of anaemia (fatigue, dizziness, etc.), the vitamin B12 deficiency may also have some serious symptoms such as

  • Nerve damage
  • Neurological problems such as confusion, dementia, depression, and memory loss.
  • Symptoms in the digestive tract include nausea and vomiting, heartburn, abdominal bloating and gas, constipation or diarrhoea, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
  • An enlarged liver
  • A smooth, beefy red tongue

Treatment:
Pernicious anaemia is treated by replacing the missing vitamin B12 in the body.
Elderly who have this disease may need lifelong treatment.

Risk:

Elderly are at higher risk for pernicious anaemia:

  • Have a family history of the condition.
  • Have had part or all of your stomach removed.
  • Have certain autoimmune disorders that involve the endocrine glands, such as Addison’s disease, type 1 diabetes, Graves’ disease, and vitiligo.
  • Have had part or all of your small intestine removed.
  • Have certain intestinal diseases or disorders that prevent your body from properly absorbing vitamin B12.
  • Take medicines that prevent your body from properly absorbing vitamin B12.
  •  A strict vegetarian who doesn’t eat any animal or dairy products and doesn’t take a vitamin B12 supplement, or if the elderly eat poorly overall.

Fanconi Anaemia

Fanconi anaemia, or FA, is a rare, inherited blood disorder that leads to bone marrow failure.
FA is a type of aplastic anaemia that prevents your bone marrow from making enough new blood cells for your body to work normally.
FA can also cause your bone marrow to make many abnormal blood cells. This can lead to serious health problems, such as leukaemia.

FA is a blood disorder, but it can also affect many of the body’s organs, tissues, and systems.

FA is an unpredictable disease.

The most common causes of death related to FA are bone marrow failure, leukaemia, and solid tumours.

Causes:

  • FA is an inherited disease – it is passed on from parents to children through the genes.
  • At least 13 faulty genes are associated with FA.
  • FA develops when both parents pass the same faulty FA gene to their child.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of FA include

  • Anaemia
  • Bone marrow failure
  • Birth defects
  • Developmental or eating problems

Treatment:

Treatment for FA is based on a person’s age and how well or poorly the person’s bone marrow makes new blood cells.

The four main types of treatment for FA are

  • Blood and marrow stem cell transplant
  • Androgen therapy
  • Synthetic growth factors
  • Gene therapy

Risk

FA occurs in all racial and ethnic groups and affects men and women equally. You are at an increased risk of developing the disease if you have a family history of FA.

The above are a few types of Anaemia.

 

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