Anemia from a sudden large volume of blood loss can cause serious health issues, including a heart attack or kidney failure. You may need oxygen or blood transfusions and treatment for any underlying health conditions.

There are many causes of anemia, with an estimated 1.74 billion people worldwide affected by it.

One cause of anemia is hemorrhaging, which can cause an abrupt drop in red blood cells. This abrupt change in red blood cell counts is known as acute anemia. It’s important for individuals to diagnose and treat this form of anemia quickly because it’s potentially life threatening.

This article will discuss how blood loss can lead to anemia, and what you may need to know to treat this condition along with other health issues you might experience.

Anemia can result from one of two types of blood loss.

Acute anemia

Acute anemia from blood loss involves an abrupt drop in red blood cells. It’s often caused by hemolysis or acute hemorrhage.

A sudden large volume of blood loss may occur also occur because of surgery, injury, or childbirth.

Chronic anemia

Chronic anemia is different in that it usually involves a gradual decrease in red blood cells and is frequently caused by nutritional deficiencies, chronic diseases, and medications.

Chronic slower blood loss leading to low red blood cell counts is often caused by ulcers or prolonged, extensive menstrual bleeding. Polyps and other growths may also play a role in chronic internal bleeding.

Healthy individuals can tolerate losing about 20% of their blood volume before significant symptoms appear. When losses exceed this, signs and symptoms like an increased heart rate and low blood pressure may appear.

Blood loss that exceeds 40% can lead to a loss of consciousness and has a high risk of morbidity. When more than 50% has been lost, a person’s pulse may disappear.

Acute blood loss anemia can be life threatening.

You should always seek help immediately if you see severe bleeding or suspect that you have internal bleeding.

A person can die from blood loss within 5 minutes. Even slower bleeding that continues over time without medical treatment can add up and lead to major organ injury.

The two most common causes of acute anemia — hemolysis and acute hemorrhage — can be fatal, so it’s important to take symptoms seriously.

Symptoms of acute anemia can include:

  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • fainting or loss of Consciousness
  • pale skin that is cool or clammy
  • blood pressure drops
  • rapid heart rate and increasing pulse rate
  • difficulty breathing

In addition to a physical exam, diagnosis for acute anemia will usually involve blood tests. Some blood tests that might be recommended include:

  • Complete blood count: This provides information about the number of red blood cells and the hemoglobin levels in the blood.
  • Mean corpuscular volume (MCV): Can be used to classify the anemia and help indicate the cause if it’s unknown.
  • Reticulocyte count: This type of count checks to make sure that red blood cells are being created at an appropriate rate by the bone marrow.
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation: This DIC panel measures the time it takes blood to clot

Your doctor may also wish to check your iron and Vitamin B-12 levels.

Depending on the location and cause of the blood loss, your doctor may request medical imaging. This can include:

  • Ultrasound to diagnose internal bleeding
  • X-ray to assess potential bodily damage if blood was lost due to trauma
  • CT scan to identify several sources of bleeding in different parts of the body

Treatment for acute anemia frequently includes blood transfusions and oxygen.

It may also require IV fluids to increase the blood volume as well as treatment of the underlying condition to prevent more blood from being lost. (If the cause of the acute anemia is life threatening, that will usually be addressed as the first priority.)

Packed red blood cells (pRBCs) are often given to individuals experiencing acute anemia to restore blood that has been lost. These differ from whole blood, because most of the plasma has been removed.

Doctors can also include other components of blood like platelets and plasma in transfusions as needed though.

Depending on the exact cause of the acute anemia, doctors may suggest pain medications or antibiotics. They may also recommend taking iron to help the body build new red blood cells.

If you lose a lot of blood quickly, you can develop acute anemia. You may experience symptoms like impaired breathing, pale clammy skin, and an increased pulse. These symptoms may become more severe if your blood loss continues.

It’s important to get medical help quickly. Doctors may suggest blood transfusions and oxygen. You may also need IV fluids or medications for pain depending on the cause of your bleeding.