What is hypochromia?

Hypochromia is a term of medicine, which is used to indicate the decrease of hemoglobin in erythrocytes, due to an insufficiency of iron in the red blood cells, which manifests itself through a less intense red color than normal when examined under a microscope. (1)

This blood disorderis considered a type of anemia (2), which if not corrected in time, can lead toIron Deficiency Anemia(3). In the United States it has been documented that the most common cause of hypochromiais the deficiency in the consumption of foods with iron.

You should know: The detection of hypochromia can show other pathologies such asanisocytosis or poikilocytosis, also defines the morphology of these globules inmacrocytosisormicrocytosis.

On the other hand, it is important to mention that if hypochromia is positive in hematology, it has a classification as follows:

  • Normal hypochromia: 0 to 5 hypochromic globules.
  • Discrete hypochromia: 6 to 15 hypochromic globules.
  • Moderate hypochromia: From 16 to 30 hypochromic globules.
  • Intense hypochromia: More than 30 hypochromic globules.

What causes hypochromia?

Here are themost common causes, to which the appearance of hypochromia is attributed:

1. Iron deficiency

As we have previously mentioned, hypochromia is detected by hemoglobin deficiency in red blood cells and the cause of this deficiency is the insufficiency of some vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid.

Note: Iron is a very necessary mineral for the synthesis of hemoglobin. (4)

2. Alterations in the synthesis of hemoglobin

Disorders in hemoglobin synthesis consist of inherited disorders characterized by genetic mutations that affect hemoglobin synthesis. One of these disorders is Thalassemia (5) which prevents the proper production of hemoglobin, necessary for red blood cells.

3. Sideroblastic anemia

Sideroblastic anemia is one of the anemias that occur due to defective use of iron by the body , characterized by inadequate medullary use of iron for the synthesis of heme, despite the presence of adequate concentrations of iron in the body. (6)

To highlight: We must remember that hypochromia arises because of the presence of some type of anemia .

How is hypochromia treated?

According to the origin of the insufficiency of hemoglobin in the red blood cells, there are some strategies that allow the adequate treatment of hypochromia, which we mention below:

1. Increased iron intake

If the cause of the hypochromia is attributed to iron deficiency anemia due to a lack of iron , then the therapeutic measure is a diet that includes foods rich in iron , such as spinach , Broccoli , red meat, fish and shellfish, some legumes, among others.

2. Blood transfusions

In those cases where hypochromia is attributed to disorders in the production of hemoglobin due to hereditary causes, the recommended therapy is blood transfusion. 

For this, the patient must undergo periodic evaluationsof the blood values through hematological examinations and verify the level of hemoglobin present in the blood, taking the most appropriate moment for the transfusion andimproving the state of hypochromia.

3. Vitamin B6 and folic acid supplements

You should know: In any of the above strategies, prior evaluation of the patient by a specialist doctor is appropriate.

Key Findings

  • Hypochromia is a medical term used to indicate decreased hemoglobin in red blood cells.
  • This blood disorder manifests itself through a less intense red color than normal.
  • Hypochromia is considered a type of anemia and may indicate the presence of other disorders in the blood.
  • Hypochromia can be treated by increasing the consumption of iron , vitamin B6 and in other cases with blood transfusions.

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