Causes and consequences of low hemoglobin: what it falls from, what is dangerous and what to do in order to increase the level

Low hemoglobin is a clinical sign of various diseases, but it is detected only after a general clinical blood test is performed. If changes are ignored, life-threatening complications are highly likely.

Sources of reducing the concentration of the main component of red blood cells are often diseases, for example, chronic anemia, chronic gastrointestinal diseases, blood oncology and autoimmune processes. There are several physiological provocateurs.

Symptoms of low hemoglobin are quite specific, but the malaise may go unnoticed, as it disguises itself as the clinical manifestations of the underlying disease. The main signs of low hemoglobin in the blood: changes in hair and nails, dry skin, dizziness, severe weakness and attacks of loss of consciousness.

It is possible to determine that hemoglobin is lowered only with the help of laboratory tests. To identify the main etiological factor, instrumental procedures may be required.

Correction of the condition is carried out by conservative methods, for example, taking medications or eating certain foods. The scheme for eliminating the cause of the pathology is individual.


Lower values ​​of iron-containing protein are indicated in those cases when the indicators deviate from the norm downward. Acceptable for men are considered to be 130-170 g / l, and for women - 120-150 g / l. In children, the normal level differs depending on the age category.

A low hemoglobin level in most situations acts as a secondary manifestation, i.e., develops against the background of a course of a disease. The most common sources:

  • chronic iron deficiency anemia,
  • chronic atrophic gastritis,
  • inflammatory bowel disease,
  • dysbiosis,
  • systemic lupus erythematosus,
  • rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune pathologies,
  • glomerulonephritis,
  • viral hepatitis,
  • pneumonia and tuberculosis,
  • gastroenterocolitis,
  • kidney inflammation,
  • profuse blood loss - increased ESR and low hemoglobin are combined
  • oncological neoplasms, especially with localization in the digestive tract,
  • malignant diseases of the hematopoietic system,
  • wide range of infections
  • helminthic and parasitic infestations,
  • various injuries and injuries
  • cirrhosis of the liver,
  • diseases of the thyroid gland and other segments of the endocrine system,
  • surgical interventions
  • the formation of both external and internal hemorrhoids.

As for less harmless sources, i.e., not related to the course of pathologies, such causes of low hemoglobin are presented in the following list:

  • the period of bearing a child,
  • menstruation,
  • poor nutrition - the most common provocateur of abnormal hemoglobin content in children,
  • overly strict diets
  • patrimonial activity,
  • hormonal imbalance,
  • prolonged exposure to stressful situations,
  • breast-feeding.

It should be noted that reduced hemoglobin can be a congenital abnormality, often found in elderly people. The level of iron-containing protein is often lowered in blood donors.

Each of the reasons affects the development of the consequences of low hemoglobin, which can be dangerous to human life and result in death.

Causes of Low Blood Hb

The causes of low hemoglobin are divided into several groups:

  • iron loss in acute or chronic bleeding: with injuries, hemorrhoids, tumor decay, in the postoperative period,
  • malabsorption in the intestine: resection of the duodenum or jejunum, malabsorption syndrome, intestinal form of cystic fibrosis,
  • insufficient intake of iron with food: starvation, vegetarianism,
  • idiopathic: occurs for no specific reason,
  • increased need for iron: during accelerated growth, during pregnancy and breastfeeding,
  • impaired synthesis or decreased production of hemoglobin and red blood cells: congenital, hereditary pathology.

Hemoglobin reduction is acute and chronic. The causes and consequences of such conditions can be different. An acute decrease in hemoglobin develops with rapidly occurring bleeding. In this case, there is a sharp decrease in the volume of circulating blood, collapse or shock may occur.

With the gradual development of pathology, chronic hypoxia occurs. The body manages to adapt to the new conditions of oxygen transport. Characterized by a slow increase in symptoms.

Low blood protein in newborns: causes

Low hemoglobin in a baby who was recently born is also a topic for separate discussion. An indicator of 70-80 g / ml or less is considered abnormal.

In order to understand what causes low hemoglobin in infants, it is worth classifying the type of anemia in him:

  • Iron deficiency - low hemoglobin in children of this type can be expected if their mothers had too little iron in the body during gestation. However, it is quite possible that the baby consumes little iron after birth or it simply is not absorbed by the intestines.
  • B12-deficient - this low hemoglobin in infants occurs when too large doses of vitamin C interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12.
  • Folic acid deficiency is a deficiency of vitamin B9, which contributes to the synthesis of DNA, nucleic acids, RNA. This process directly relates to red blood cells.
  • Hemolytic - is the breakdown of red blood cells. Such low hemoglobin in children should be expected if they were born prematurely, are incompatible with their mother by blood, and experienced side effects of certain drugs. In some cases, the cause may be intoxication with certain substances.
  • Dyshemopoietic - is the result of impaired hematopoiesis occurring in the red bone marrow. A similar low hemoglobin in a child is rare.
  • Posthemorrhagic - occurs even less often. The reasons are injuries, surgery.
  • But the rarest form of anemia is the one in which the protein component of the molecule is changed. Red blood cells in this case carry oxygen with great difficulty. Similar changes occur due to hereditary reasons, due to mutations.


Low hemoglobin has several characteristic clinical manifestations. The problem is that the clinic often goes unnoticed, as the symptoms of the underlying disease come to the fore.

The main signs of low hemoglobin:

  • severe dizziness,
  • noise and ringing in the ears
  • violation of the menstrual cycle until the complete absence of critical days,
  • dyspnea,
  • decreased potency in men - such a problem can reach temporary impotence,
  • loss of appetite or a complete aversion to food,
  • a sharp increase in blood tone,
  • defecation disorder - there are complaints of diarrhea,
  • respiratory problems
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • fragility and deformation of the nail plates,
  • dryness, loss or slow hair growth,
  • redness of the tongue,
  • painful pallor and dryness of the skin,
  • convulsive seizures - the lower extremities are most often affected,
  • tingling and numbness of the feet,
  • the appearance of pain in the tongue,
  • increased heart rate
  • distortion of taste and smell,
  • peeling lips
  • dry mouth
  • decreased attention span,
  • the appearance of cracks in the corners of the lips,
  • rapid fatigue and decreased performance,
  • persistent headaches
  • bouts of loss of consciousness,
  • urinary incontinence
  • decreased resistance of the immune system.

It is noteworthy that the last 3 external manifestations are found only with a significant decrease in the main component of the red blood cells.

Symptoms can occur in all people, regardless of age group.

What does the decline in women indicate?

Reduced hemoglobin in women can occur at any age. At the same time, the size and shape of red blood cells often change. Gynecological pathology - this is what, with a high degree of probability, such a set of laboratory indicators can talk about.

Uterine polyps, endometriosis can cause heavy menstruation. In this case, slight blood loss of up to 70 - 80 ml daily is possible. This explains why blood hemoglobin can be lowered immediately afterwards. The treatment consists in treating the underlying disease.

The occurrence of bleeding in the middle of the cycle, the duration of blood flow for more than 7 days, the lack of coagulation of menstrual blood can be a manifestation of uterine bleeding. This condition requires emergency medical attention.

Following a diet, limiting the intake of many foods, especially meat and fruits, can also contribute to the development of low hemoglobin syndrome.

Low protein in newborns: signs

What are the signs of low hemoglobin in such young children?

  • Weakened state, poor immunity, rapid morbidity.
  • Weakness, manifested in reluctant absorption of milk, rapid fatigue and drowsiness.
  • Pallor.
  • Diarrhea or constipation - in other words, any violation of the stool.
  • Tactile sensitivity is getting weaker.
  • Heart murmurs are likely.
  • Probably jaundice.


If the average hemoglobin content in the erythrocyte is lowered, this can be detected only according to a general clinical blood test. The procedure may require biological material from a vein or from a finger. Patients do not need specific preparation.

To find out the reasons against which the symptoms of lowered hemoglobin appeared, a comprehensive examination of the human body is necessary. Additional laboratory tests and instrumental procedures are selected individually.

There are several general diagnostic measures performed directly by the clinician:

  • familiarization with the history of the disease - to search for the main pathological etiological factor,
  • collection and analysis of life history - to confirm or refute the influence of physiological causes,
  • measurement of blood pressure and heart rate,
  • assessment of the condition of the skin and mucous membranes, hair and nail plates,
  • a detailed survey of the patient - to find out when they first appeared and what signs are accompanied by symptoms in low hemoglobin.

In addition, consultation with specialists from various fields of medicine may be required.

Why decreases during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, a decrease in hemoglobin develops gradually. In some cases, this is due to exacerbations of previously existing diseases. If the woman was examined, changes in the blood condition were not detected, then it is possible to assume the development of anemia of pregnant women.

In a blood test, you can see a decrease in hemoglobin, which means an increase in the daily requirement of iron. It is necessary for the normal development of the fetus and placenta.

The physiological low level of hemoglobin can manifest itself in the second trimester:

  • in a pregnant woman, the rheological properties of blood change: its "fluidity" increases,
  • as a result, the volume of circulating plasma increases, and the number of blood cells (red blood cells, platelets, white blood cells) remains the same,
  • the study determines a decrease in hemoglobin and red blood cells due to excessive dilution of blood.

This explains why the level of iron in the blood falls in the second trimester. A few weeks after birth, blood counts return to normal.

If there is low hemoglobin in the first trimester, it is necessary to identify the reason why it falls. This can be with dietary restrictions, with toxicosis or chronic pathologies: hypothyroidism, enteritis, leukemia.


The treatment of low hemoglobin depends on the primary source of the pathology: it can be conservative or surgical, but more often it has a combined character.

To normalize the concentration of iron-containing protein without affecting the provoking factor, the following methods are used:

  • taking medications
  • adherence to a special diet,
  • the use of traditional medicine recipes.

Medicines aimed at increasing hemoglobin levels:

Patients are shown taking or intravenous administration of vitamin complexes.

Reduced hemoglobin can be increased if a certain diet is observed. Recommended to eat:

  • beef
  • pork
  • chicken
  • lamb
  • fish and seafood,
  • Garnet,
  • strawberries
  • beets
  • pumpkin
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • asparagus and spinach
  • dried fruits,
  • porridge
  • whole wheat bread,
  • cabbage
  • tomatoes
  • potatoes,
  • citrus,
  • greens and salad
  • melon
  • pepper,
  • blackcurrant and other products fortified with iron.

It is not forbidden to increase low hemoglobin with the help of traditional medicine recipes, but this can only be done after the approval of the attending physician. The most effective components of healing drinks:

  • rosemary,
  • sage,
  • nettle,
  • thyme,
  • sesame seeds
  • coriander,
  • rose hip
  • yarrow
  • dandelion root,
  • clover,
  • sagebrush,
  • fireweed.

In severe situations, they turn to a procedure such as a blood transfusion with low hemoglobin. In any case, therapy should be under the supervision of the attending physician.

Possible complications

A decrease in hemoglobin concentration in the absence of therapy can lead to the formation of serious complications. The list of conditions than low hemoglobin is dangerous:

  • violation of the functioning of internal organs and systems,
  • respiratory or heart failure,
  • frequent exposure to colds
  • fainting injuries
  • enlarged liver
  • anemia,
  • vascular atherosclerosis,
  • emotional instability.

Prevention and prognosis

To avoid the development of a situation such as low hemoglobin, you can by following simple rules. Prevention of this condition includes:

  • maintaining a healthy and moderately active lifestyle,
  • full and balanced nutrition,
  • stress management,
  • the absence of any injuries and injuries,
  • hormonal control,
  • regular full preventive examination at a medical institution.

The causes and consequences of low hemoglobin dictate the prognosis of pathology. In the absence of therapy, an aggravation of the underlying problem is noted, frequent relapses of symptoms, do not exclude the possibility of a fatal outcome due to complications.

Symptoms of Low Protein

What signs of low hemoglobin help identify this problem?

  • General weakness is a rather characteristic symptom not only for babies. Older children and adults are also often tired, experiencing constant drowsiness.
  • Disturbed concentration.
  • Headaches, dizziness are another companion of low blood protein. Probable even fainting.
  • Muscles become weaker. Sometimes this phenomenon leads to urinary incontinence.
  • The pressure drops.
  • Appearance also suffers significantly. For example, nails and hair become more brittle and grow slowly.The skin is also dry, covered with cracks, turns pale.
  • Probable violations of taste and smell. A person may like usually unpleasant odors like the smell of acetone, exhaust, naphthalene. Or there is a desire to try something inedible like sand, chalk.
  • Dry mouth begins to feel. A tingling sensation appears in the tongue.
  • In some cases, shortness of breath is observed.
  • Heart murmurs are likely.
  • Hands and feet often get colder.

For clarity, we present a diagram on which the main symptoms are indicated and the symptoms of anemia in an advanced state are separately highlighted:

What does the child mean?

If the child's iron content is lowered, then this means that his intake, absorption, or there are pathological reasons for its loss. In premature infants in the first 2 months of life, low hemoglobin can be diagnosed: this condition is called early physiological anemia. It leads to increased decay of red blood cells containing fetal (formed during embryonic development) hemoglobin HbF.

Normocytic (with normal red blood cell sizes), normochromic (with normal hemoglobin content in red blood cells) anemia is detected in a laboratory. A decrease in hemoglobin in a child under 2 months of age is a physiological norm and does not require treatment.

Sometimes low hemoglobin is also diagnosed in older children. If there is a decrease in iron below normal in a baby after 2 months of life, then this means that the reasons that caused low hemoglobin may be:

  • unsustainable breastfeeding, in the absence of timely introduction of complementary foods (meat, fruit juices, mashed potatoes),
  • increased need for iron during puberty,
  • pathological loss of iron during bleeding (juvenile, uterine, nasal),
  • malabsorption in diseases of the duodenum and small intestine.

Reduced blood iron in children requires examination and identification of the causes of anemia. Raise hemoglobin to the child.

What falls in men?

The causes of hemoglobin decrease in men are:

  • violation of hemoglobin synthesis,
  • blood diseases
  • chronic diseases
  • restricted meat diets,
  • malabsorption of iron,
  • blood loss due to injuries, intestinal or internal bleeding.

If low hemoglobin is detected, you need to contact the clinic for examination. The doctor will tell you about the possible causes of pathology in men and their consequences, tell you how to increase iron in a specific situation.


A low level of hemoglobin has a negative effect on all organs of the body: the heart, brain, central and peripheral nervous systems, muscle tissue, the gastrointestinal tract, and urinary organs.

The consequences can be acute and delayed. The first option is observed with severe blood loss. The second - develops with prolonged pathologies.

What is dangerous in the short term?

With acute extensive bleeding, more than 500 ml, there is:

  • a decrease in the volume of circulating blood leads to a decrease in the amount of venous blood flowing to the heart,
  • a decrease in the amount of blood ejected during heart rate,
  • the development of hypoxia.

Signs of sharply reduced hemoglobin are:

  • compensatory activation of the sympathoadrenal system: development of tachycardia, vasospasm,
  • the appearance in the blood of reticulocytes (red blood cell precursors), polychromatophilic red blood cells (an intermediate form between immature and normal red blood cells) and normoblasts (the last stage before mature red blood cells),
  • increased decomposition of hemoglobin in the spleen, excessive formation of bilirubin and the appearance of jaundice,
  • tissue and cellular respiration decreases, the level of carbon dioxide in the blood drops, often intense breathing appears.

An acute decrease in hemoglobin can be observed in newborns. It occurs during an autoimmune conflict between red blood cells present in a woman’s body and fetal cells.

To understand why this happens, it is necessary to clarify that antibodies cross the placenta into the fetal blood, red blood cells stick together (hemolysis) and hemoglobin decreases. Depending on the amount of these antibodies, the severity of the condition of the child is determined. In a particularly severe case, a fatal outcome may occur. Sometimes the baby is born with jaundice, edema, enlargement of the heart, liver, spleen.

What threatens in the future?

Hemoglobin reduction in chronic anemia is slow. The body during this time manages to adapt to the changing conditions of blood supply.

Long-term consequences are manifested by dysfunctions of all systems. Anemia developing in severe pathologies can lead to this:

  • oncological diseases,
  • hemoblastosis
  • tuberculosis,
  • primary immunodeficiency.

If we talk about the elderly, the premature development of dementia, the frequent recurrence of chronic diseases and their progression - this is what primarily threatens the long-lasting low hemoglobin status.

Low hemoglobin in these situations is dangerous because typical clinical signs develop against the background of the underlying symptoms characteristic of the underlying disease. The latter, in turn, are exacerbated by manifestations of low hemoglobin: a decrease in working capacity, a decrease in appetite, trophic changes in the skin, ischemic damage to the myocardium and brain.

Symptoms and signs

With a decrease in hemoglobin, several characteristic syndromes are observed. They are presented in the table below.

CardiovascularTolerance to physical activity decreases, tachycardia and shortness of breath develop. Perhaps the development of myocardial dystrophy.

Vascular tone decreases, as a result of which orthostatic syncope can often occur.

Astheno-vegetativeDecreased hemoglobin is characterized by the appearance of symptoms of brain hypoxia: dizziness, irritability, noise in the head.
HepatolienalEnlarged liver and spleen. Occur in severe anemia.
Epithelial (trophic)Dryness, peeling of the skin, cracks in the corners of the mouth appear. Deformation of the nail bed may develop: concavity, excessive brittleness, delamination. There is damage to the papillae of the tongue, a change in taste preferences: the desire to eat chalk, snow or raw meat. Perhaps the development of atrophic gastritis and esophagitis, which are characterized by difficulty swallowing and discomfort in the epigastric region.
ImmunodeficiencyThe body's ability to resist infectious and bacterial pathogens decreases. Such people often suffer from viral and bacterial diseases.
MuscularNon-specific signs occur: general muscle weakness, fatigue. There may be involuntary urination when straining or coughing.

Sometimes there is a rare form of malabsorption of iron - chlorosis. This disease develops exclusively in women. May occur between the ages of 15 - 30 years. In women, characteristic symptoms appear: constant drowsiness, physical fatigue, pallor of the skin, palpitations.

How to increase?

To increase the level of hemoglobin in the blood, the following methods are used:

  • diet,
  • iron tablets
  • injectable drugs
  • transfusion of plasma or red blood cell mass,
  • treatment of the disease that caused the cause of low hemoglobin.

The best source of iron is beef, beef liver, pork liver and calf kidneys. The diet should necessarily include cereals and legumes: buckwheat, peas, beans, oatmeal. Ascorbic and citric acid enhance the absorption of iron, so it is recommended to take citrus fruits, cabbage, rosehip broths.

What to do?

If low hemoglobin is suspected, the patient should consult a physician at the clinic. The doctor will direct for the delivery of clinical tests. To clarify the causes of low hemoglobin and what it means in a particular case, if a decrease in hemoglobin is detected, it will be necessary to conduct additional studies that will help determine the type of anemia and identify a possible cause of its development.

The Hb indicator is always taken into account in conjunction with other parameters in the overall analysis, such as:

  • the average volume of red blood cells,
  • the average concentration of hemoglobin in one red blood cell,
  • serum iron
  • hematocrit.

A biochemical blood test is also important, including determining the level of ferritin. After passing the tests, the doctor will tell you what to do next, which drugs are more effective with this form of low hemoglobin syndrome.

What treatment is effective?

Possible causes, symptoms and treatments for low hemoglobin should be determined by your doctor.

Effective oral medications include:

Intramuscular and intravenous administration of iron is indicated for moderate to severe anemia. For injections use Ferrum Lek or Venofer. Blood transfusion is prescribed for acute blood loss, with very low hemoglobin.

Watch the video: Iron Deficiency Anemia, All you need to know! (March 2020).