Anemia occurs when the hemoglobin level in your red blood cells falls (RBCs). Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen to your tissues.
Iron deficiency anemia is the most frequent kind of anemia. It occurs when your body lacks sufficient iron to create hemoglobin. When you don’t have enough iron in your blood, the rest of your body doesn’t get enough oxygen.
While the condition is common, many people are unaware they have iron-deficiency anemia. It is possible to have symptoms for years without knowing what is causing them.
A common cause of iron deficiency anemia in women of childbearing age Trusted Source is iron deficiency in the blood caused by heavy menstruation or pregnancy. Iron deficiency anemia can also be caused by a poor diet or certain intestinal diseases that affect how the body absorbs iron.
This article delves into the symptoms and causes of iron deficiency and how to treat the condition.
What are the signs and symptoms of anemia caused by iron deficiency?
Iron-deficiency anemia symptoms might be modest initially, and you may not even notice them. According to the American Society of Hematology (ASH), most people are unaware they have moderate anemia until a regular blood test reveals it.
Moderate to severe iron deficiency anemia symptoms include: • overall tiredness
- fair skin
- difficulty breathing
- unusual desires for foods with minimal nutritional value
- swollen or painful tongue
- shivering hands and feet
- a rapid or erratic heartbeat
- Nail brittleness
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What are the causes of anemia due to iron deficiency?
According to ASH, the most prevalent cause of anemia is iron deficiency. A person may become iron deficient for a variety of reasons. Among these are:
Inadequate Iron Consumption
A lack of iron in your body might result from eating too little iron for an extended period. Beef, eggs, and some dark green vegetables are all excellent sources of iron. Because iron is required during rapid growth and development, pregnant women and young children may require an increased intake of iron-rich foods.
Menstruation or Pregnancy-related Blood Loss
Anemia from a lack of iron is a common problem among women of childbearing age, and one common reason for this is excessive menstrual bleeding. Pregnancy is also a period when your body needs extra iron to produce enough oxygen for the baby.
Internal bleeding caused by some medical issues might result in iron deficiency anemia. A stomach ulcer, polyps in the colon, or colon cancer are all examples. Regular use of some pain medicines, such as aspirin, can potentially result in gastric bleeding.
Iron Absorption Dysfunction
Specific intestinal problems or operations can also affect how your body absorbs iron. Even if you consume an adequate quantity of iron through your diet, intestinal surgery, such as gastric bypass, may decrease the amount of iron your body can absorb.
Endometriosis patients may have significant blood loss throughout their menstrual cycles. It may go undetected because it arises outside of the uterus in the abdominal or pelvic region.
What are the danger signs of iron deficient anemia?
Anemia is a prevalent disorder that affects men and women of any age and ethnic background. Some people are more vulnerable to iron deficiency anemia than others, such as:
- women of reproductive age
- pregnant women
- those who eat poorly
- those who routinely give blood
- vegans who do not substitute another iron-rich meal for meat
- teens who require more iron at periods of fast growth
- adults aged 65 and up
Whether you suspect you have iron deficiency anemia, consult a doctor to see if blood testing or dietary modifications might help.
Is It Risky to Have Iron Deficiency Anemia?
Severe iron deficiency anemia may raise your chance of having heart or lung difficulties, such as an unusually rapid pulse (tachycardia) or heart failure, which occurs when your heart is unable to pump enough blood around your body at the proper pressure. Iron deficiency anemia can lead to significant problems if left undiagnosed or untreated. Iron deficiency anemia can potentially aggravate or impair the management of other chronic illnesses.
Why are women more likely to suffer from iron deficiency anemia?
Women are more prone than males to suffer from iron deficiency anemia due to pregnancy, heavy menstrual flow, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids.
Heavy menstrual bleeding happens when a woman bleeds more or for a more extended period than usual. According to a Trusted Source from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), average menstrual bleeding lasts 4 to 5 days, and the volume of bloodshed ranges from 2 to 3 tablespoons.
Excessive menstrual bleeding causes women to bleed for more than seven days and lose twice as much blood as usual.
A pelvic ultrasound can assist a doctor in determining the cause of excessive bleeding during a woman’s period, such as fibroids. Uterine fibroids, like iron deficiency anemia, frequently do not cause symptoms. They develop when muscle tumors in the uterus expand.
How can you know if you have iron deficiency anemia?
Blood tests can be used to identify anemia. Following are some examples:
CBC (complete blood count) test
A complete blood count (CBC) is typically the first test used by a clinician. A CBC measures the concentration of cellular or cell-related components in the blood, such as:
- RBCs (red blood cells)
- WBCs (white blood cells) (WBCs)
A complete blood count (CBC) offers information about your blood that can be used to diagnose iron deficiency anemia. This data set includes:
- the hematocrit level (the percentage of blood volume made up of RBCs).
- the hemoglobin concentration
- the total amount of RBCs (red blood cells) in your blood
Hematocrit and hemoglobin levels are low in iron deficiency anemia. RBCs are also often smaller in size than usual.
A CBC test is frequently conducted as part of a standard physical assessment. It is an excellent predictor of a person’s overall health. It may also be done routinely before surgery.
A CBC test is frequently used to confirm anemia. Your doctor may conduct further blood tests to establish your anemia’s severity and assist in identifying treatment options. They may also use a microscope to analyze your blood. These blood tests will reveal information such as:
- How high are your blood iron levels are
- your RBC size and color (pale RBCs indicate iron deficiency)
- ferritin levels
- your overall iron-binding capability (TIBC)
One protein that helps keep iron on hand is called ferritin. Low ferritin levels imply poor iron storage. A TIBC test is performed to determine how much transferrin is transporting iron. Transferrin is an iron-transporting protein.
Internal Bleeding Examinations
Additional tests may be required if your doctor suspects that internal bleeding is the cause of your anemia. One option is a fecal occult test to search for blood in your feces. Blood in your stools might suggest intestinal hemorrhage.
Your doctor may also do an endoscopy, which involves seeing the linings of your gastrointestinal tract with a tiny camera mounted on a flexible tube. The two kinds are as follows:
- An upper GI endoscopy, commonly known as an EGD test, allows a doctor to inspect the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and upper section of the small intestine.
- A colonoscopy, also known as a lower GI endoscopy, is a procedure in which a doctor examines the lining of the colon, the bottom section of the large intestine.
These tests can aid in determining the cause of gastrointestinal bleeding.
Why do platelets rise in anemia caused by iron deficiency?
Platelet counts might grow due to increased production, spleen discharge, or more prolonged platelet survival. Platelet numbers in circulation may also develop as a result of platelet division. Patients suffering from iron deficiency anemia have abnormal platelet counts. Platelet homeostasis appears to be affected by the length and severity of iron deficient anemia.
What are the medical consequences of iron deficient anemia?
Most cases of iron deficiency anemia are mild and do not result in problems. The problem is typically readily remedied. If anemia or iron deficiency is not addressed, it might lead to additional health issues. These are some examples:
Fast or Erratic Heartbeat
When anemic, your heart needs to pump extra blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen. This may result in an erratic heartbeat. It can cause cardiac failure or an enlarged heart in extreme situations.
Complications During Pregnancy
A kid may be delivered prematurely or with a low birth weight in severe cases of iron insufficiency. To avoid this, most pregnant women take iron supplements as part of their prenatal care.
Child Growth Retardation
Iron deficiency in infants and toddlers may result in impaired growth and development. Infection risk may also be higher for this population.
What is the treatment for iron deficient anemia?
The severity of your iron deficiency anemia and the condition’s origin will determine how you are treated. Most cases of this illness are caused by a shortage of iron in your diet or by issues with your body’s absorption of the iron you ingest. Here are some therapy alternatives.
Iron supplements can aid in the restoration of iron levels in the body. If feasible, take iron supplements on an empty stomach to improve absorption. You can take these with meals if they make your stomach uncomfortable. The accessories may need to be taken for several months. Constipation or black stools may result from taking iron supplements.
Iron deficiency can be treated or prevented by including the following items in one’s diet:
- Leafy dark green veggies
- preserved fruits
- iron-enriched cereals
In addition, vitamin C may aid in iron absorption. A doctor may advise you to take iron pills with a source of vitamin C, such as a glass of orange juice or citrus fruit.
How can iron deficiency anemia be avoided?
Iron-deficiency anemia, caused by insufficient iron consumption, can be avoided by consuming a diet rich in iron-rich foods and vitamin C. Mothers should feed their babies breast milk or iron-fortified baby formula.
Iron deficiency Anemia is the most prevalent kind of anemia. That’s what occurs when your body is lacking in iron. Potential causes include a lack of iron-rich meals, blood loss due to menstruation, and an inability to absorb iron.
Consult your doctor if you feel you have an iron shortage. A blood test can pick up symptoms of anemia.