Anemia and Your Genes

Many people believe that external causes, like a bad diet, cause anemia. But the reality is that several types of anemia are connected to genetic flaws. Some people are born with genes that, in one way or another, affect the blood.

The following anemias are among those that an individual can inherit −

Sickle Cell Anemia

A gene that causes the blood protein hemoglobin to develop improperly is present in people with sickle-cell anemia. Red blood cells are thus created with a sickle shape. Crises, as well as strokes and heart attacks, might result from this.

A diminished ability to fight infection as well as swelling in the hands and feet are further symptoms of sickle-cell anemia. The majority of people with sickle-cell anemia are African-Americans, while it can also occasionally affect those with Hispanic, Indian, and Mediterranean ancestry.


When your body is unable to create enough hemoglobin, which is responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body, thalassemia develops. Defective genes also contribute to this illness. While people with a moderate or severe form may have an enlarged spleen, decreased growth, bone issues, and jaundice, those with mild thalassemia sometimes only have normal anemic symptoms, such as fatigue.

Some forms are so severe that a fetus may pass away before birth. In contrast, thalassemia can be so mild that some people don't discover they have the illness until they are 50 or 60 years old when they have a minor anemia.

Congenital Pernicious Anemia

A person with this uncommon anemia is born without the ability to generate intrinsic factors, a stomach protein that aids in the body's absorption of vitamin B12. You become anemic if your body cannot produce enough healthy red blood cells due to a lack of vitamin B12.

Other problems like nerve damage, cognitive loss, and an enlarged liver can result from vitamin B12 deficiency. This illness gets better with the consumption of vitamin B12 pills. It has to be consumed for the rest of one's life, just like other kinds of pernicious anemia.

Fanconi Anemia

This particular form of anemia results from an inherited blood condition that stops the bone marrow from creating enough fresh blood cells for the body. Some patients with Fanconi anemia are more susceptible to infection because their bodies do not create enough white blood cells to fight germs, in addition to the typical anemia symptoms like fatigue and mental fogginess.

Some patients also have a higher risk of developing the blood cancer acute myeloid leukemia because their bone marrow produces an excessive amount of immature white blood cells, which prevents the development of healthy blood cells.

Hereditary Spherocytosis

Spherocytes, defective red blood cells that are typically passed from parent to kid through the genes, are thin and brittle and are indicative of the said condition. These cells stay in the spleen longer before being eliminated because they cannot alter form to pass through certain organs like normal red blood cells can.

Anemia begins with the destruction of the red blood cells. The majority of hereditary spherocytosis patients only have mild anemia, but the pressures of infection can result in jaundice and even a temporary cessation of the bone marrow's ability to produce blood cells.

Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura

This anemia-causing disorder commonly referred to as TTP for short is caused by a kind of blood-clotting enzyme that is not working correctly, which causes platelets, which are blood cells that aid in wound healing, and cluster together. Those with TTP may endure prolonged bleeding internally, externally, or beneath the skin, because their platelets tend to clump together, which results in fewer platelets circulating throughout the body.

By influencing red blood cells after they leave the bone marrow and causing breakages of those red blood cells in the blood, it might cause anemia. Hemolytic anemia is the term for this condition. TTP can be acquired. It means that it manifests later in life. However, heritable variants of the illness also exist.

How do Doctors Diagnose Hereditary Anemia?

To identify hereditary anemia, doctors often run several blood tests. Also, they might look for genetic markers in blood samples that could indicate inherited illnesses such as hereditary anemia. To understand whether your symptoms are brought on by specific anemia, a person needs to undergo basic blood tests.

They might perform a complete blood count (CBC), which is one of the preparatory exams. A CBC counts −

  • How many platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells do you have?

  • Your red blood cells' size.

  • The blood molecule called hemoglobin transports oxygen throughout your body.

  • Hematocrit measures how much room red blood cells occupy in blood.

How can People with Hereditary Anemia take Care of Themselves?

Your hereditary anemia is curable by medical professionals. After you feel better, you might be interested to find out ways how to take control of your health and prevent being sick again. Listed below are some tips that can assist you in controlling anemia −

  • Maintain a nutritious diet high in the vitamins B12, C, and B9 (folic acid). If you are willing to learn more about maintaining healthy red blood cells, talk with a dietitian.

  • Drinking a sufficient amount of water helps keep body hydrated.

  • Exercise frequently. See your healthcare physician for advice on safe workout techniques.

  • One can wash their hands frequently and avoid ill people. It can help you to prevent infections.

  • By documenting your symptoms, you can keep track of them.

  • Tell your doctor if any of your symptoms change.

Is anemia a Medical Emergency?

Acute anemia can be a symptom of sudden, significant blood loss or an indication that red blood cells are depleting quickly. Acute anemia patients may have the following signs and symptoms −

  • They are very fragile.

  • Their hearts are racing and thumping rapidly.

  • They have hard time breathing.


Many people can take precautions to prevent anemia caused by food deficiencies or treatable illnesses. However, for those with hereditary anemia, lifelong management is frequently required. By adhering to simple lifestyle management tips, anemia can be taken care of and one can lead a healthy life.

Updated on: 03-Apr-2023


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