Features and Benefits
Why do I need this anaemia test?
Anaemia is a common and potentially dangerous condition of the blood brought about when the body does not produce enough red blood cells. You should do this test if you think you may be anaemic. The following are common symptoms of anaemia:
What happens if anaemia is left untreated?
If anaemia is left untreated your symptoms will get worse and you may become very tired and weak, you may also develop angina or suffer with leg pains when walking. The body’s ability to fight infection may also be weakened so you may find you pick up infections more easily.
How is anaemia treated?
The treatment you receive will depend greatly on the cause of anaemia. Treatment is usually simple and may be resolved with an improved diet or by taking supplements. If the cause of your anaemia is vitamin B12 deficiency then your doctor may prescribe vitamin B12 injections. These injections will need to be given every 3 months, usually throughout the patient’s life. It is also possible to have iron injections but this is not often necessary.
If your anaemia has been caused by internal bleeding e.g. ulcers then medicines or surgery may be required. If anaemia is severe then you may also need to have a blood transfusion.
What are the different types of anaemia?
The main types of anaemia are caused by shortages of iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid, all of which are needed (among other things) to produce red blood cells, so if one or more of these are missing or running low then anaemia will develop.
Iron deficiency anaemia
The most common type of anaemia is iron deficiency anaemia, which basically means the body is running low on iron. The body needs iron to successfully produce haemoglobin the substance that carries oxygen throughout the body.
The main reason why people may have a shortage of iron is because the body is losing blood faster than the body can remake it. This can be caused by gastritis, piles, stomach cancer, ulcers or bowel cancer. In women the most common reason for iron deficiency is menstrual bleeding (periods). Another possible reason for a shortage of iron is diet, which is low in iron. Good sources of iron include fruit, dark green vegetables, wholemeal bread, fortified breakfast cereals, beans and meat.
Vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia
The main cause of vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia (also called pernicious anaemia) is when there is inadequate absorption of vitamin B12 from the diet. This can be due to ulcers, stomach cancer, diseases of the small intestine or from the after effects of surgery.
A vegan or vegetarian is at risk of developing pernicious anaemia because vitamin B12 is only found in foods of animal origin. Vitamin B12 can be found in liver, meat and dairy products.
Vitamin B12 is also essential for the nervous system, so if you have a lack of vitamin B12 you can also develop inflammation of the nerves or dementia.
Folic Acid deficiency
The main reason why you may have a lack of folic acid is due to a poor diet and if you drink excessive alcohol it can reduce the uptake of folic acid. Folic acid can be found in fresh fruit, raw green vegetables, beans and whole grain cereals.
Folic acid deficiency and vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia may also be known as megaloblastic anaemia.
Is there anything I can do to avoid becoming anaemic?
To avoid getting anaemia you should stick to a healthy balanced diet and ensure you eat food that contains good sources of iron, folic acid and vitamin B12. You should also cut down on alcohol consumption. If you are a strict vegetarian you should take vitamin B12 supplements to avoid deficiency.
Each box contains:
How is this test carried out:
1. Wash your hands with soap and rinse with clear warm water.
2. Bring the pouch to room temperature before opening it. Open the foil pouch and get out the cassette.
3. Carefully pull off and dispose of the clear plastic cap of the lancet. The lancet is a single use lancet so make sure you do not fire the lancet prematurely.
4. Use the provided alcohol pad to clean the fingertip of the middle or ring finger as the puncture site.
5. Press the lancet (on the side from where the cap was removed) firmly against the fingertip (the side of the ring or middle finger is advised). The tip retracts automatically and safely after use.
6. Keeping the hand down, massage the finger that was pricked to obtain a blood drop.
7. Without squeezing the capillary dropper bulb, gently put it in contact with the edge of the blood drop. The blood should automatically be drawn up the dropper by capillary action. You should fill the dropper up to the black line.
You may continue to massage your finger to obtain more blood if the line is not reached. As far as possible, try to avoid air bubbles.
8. Transfer the collected blood into the sample well (S) of the cassette, by squeezing the dropper bulb.
9. Wait for the blood to be totally dispensed in the well. Unscrew the cap of the buffer bottle and add 1 drop of buffer into the sample well of the cassette.
10. Wait for the coloured line(s) to appear. Read results at 5 minutes. Results obtained after this time may be inaccurate.
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