Haemoglobin is protein located in red blood cells that gives blood its red appearance. OhioHealth.com states that the typical range for haemoglobin count in men is roughly 14 to 17g/dl, while 12 to 16g/dl is the average count in women. A very low count signifies a person has anaemia, an iron deficiency disorder.
Iron deficiency is more prevalent in women than in men. About-Blood-Disorders.com reports that 20 per cent of American women suffer from anaemia, while more than 50 per cent of pregnant women display anaemia signs. Low haemoglobin counts are not very common in American men as only 3 per cent are afflicted with the blood disorder.
Many reasons exist for very low haemoglobin counts. For women, one of the biggest causes is pregnancy, which raises blood flow and necessitates iron for the foetus. Various forms of bleeding, such as bleeding during childbirth, heavy bleeding during menstruation, hemorrhoidal bleeding, hernia bleeding and ulcer bleeding, can also lead to low red blood cell counts. Intestinal ailments and certain medications can put a person at risk for anaemia.
People with certain conditions are at risk for very low haemoglobin counts. Those at risk include people who suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding, low iron diets, bleeding disorders and malnutrition. Children or babies experiencing growth spurts or women during pregnancy are also prone to very low counts.
As haemoglobin counts become very low, a person will experience various symptoms, such as cold extremities, sluggishness, headaches, loss of appetite and a swollen or sore tongue, according to About-Blood-Disorders.com. If left untreated, symptoms can become more severe and cause infection, lead poisoning, and physical and mental delays in children. Irregular or increased heartbeat and angina are additional complications from very low haemoglobin counts.
During pregnancy, women are often given additional dietary iron to avoid very low haemoglobin levels. In other cases, over-the-counter iron supplements can replenish very low iron levels. About-Blood-Disorders.com states that in cases where haemoglobin levels are severely low, patients are treated with a more powerful prescription, known as ferrous sulphate. Iron supplements will not restore low haemoglobin counts immediately. It can take months to reverse complications related to very low haemoglobin counts.