Anaemia is a major public health problem in India. According to the WHO, there are two billion people suffering from anaemia in the world. 50% of the cases of anaemia are due to iron deficiency. The prevalence of anaemia in developing countries like India is 45% in adults over the age of 60 years. Women, in general, are more likely to get affected by anaemia than men.

Iron deficiency is the main cause of anaemia. Anaemia is a late indicator of iron deficiency. It is thought that the prevalence of iron deficiency is 2.5 times more than that of anaemia. Such high figures of anaemia occurrence is a great indicator of the health and economic consequences for low-income and middle-income countries.

Anaemia and iron deficiency result in a loss of physical productivity in adults.

Symptoms of Anaemia

Most people suffering from anaemia complain of easy fatigability. Fatigue (seen in 86.7% older adults) is followed by weakness (80%), shortness of breath (45.7%), edema in legs (22.9%), headache (19%), vertigo (18.1%), palpitation (14.3%), bleeding from the nose or ears (12.4%), and tinnitus (6.7%). Older adults over the age of 80 are likely to suffer more from vertigo.

The most common symptom that appears on physical examination is pallor. It is seen in 84.8% of the older adults. Apart from this, peripheral edema and glossitis (nflammation of the tongue) were seen in a number of patients.

Causes and Types of Anaemia

Iron deficiency is the most major cause of anaemia (known as IDA). Apart from this, anaemia in chronic disease (ACD), haematological disorders, chronic kidney disease (CKD), vitamin B12 deficiency, folate deficiency, hypothyroidism and a combination of any of these are also causes of anaemia.

Causes of Anaemia:

  1. Iron deficiency
  2. Folic acid deficiency
  3. Peptic ulcer disease
  4. Anaemia of chronic disease
  5. Bone marrow failure
  6. Blood loss
  7. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
  8. Infectious diseases
  9. Surgical complications

Here are the various types of anaemia:

  1. Iron Deficiency Anaemia – Lack of iron
  2. Pernicious Anaemia – Lack of vitamin B12 and folate
  3. Aplastic Anaemia – Bone marrow damage
  4. Haemolytic Anaemia – Breaking down of RBCs
  5. Sickle cell Anaemia – Abnormal haemoglobin levels
  6. Anaemia caused by other diseases or chemotherapy

Also Read: Reasons for Anaemia in Older Adults


The number of older adults is continuously rising in India. Doctors now need to pay more attention to the common complaints of older adults. This will help them evaluate and manage common conditions like anaemia which may lead to increased morbidity and mortality in older adults. Unresponsive anaemia requires more deeper examination. Recent studies show that not only aging and age-related disorders are causes for anaemia in older adults, but there are certain changes in the blood system that are age-specific that affect RBC production.

Even though anaemia is extremely common in older adults, the underlying cause of anaemia is still unclear. Untreated anaemia can lead to further issues like heart and mental disorders. The WHO theme of extending longevity in the elderly can be achieved only if the causes of anaemia are determined and it is treated effectively. This can be done by reaching out to more older adults, especially those in rural areas to successfully diagnose and treat anaemia.

Timely intervention can bring a positive change in the quality of life and reduce the effects of degenerative diseases in old age.

Also Read: 5 Foods To Treat Anaemia in Older Adults 

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