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Iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia occurs due to a lack of iron in the body. The blood cannot produce sufficient healthy red blood cells, which transport oxygen (hemoglobin) to the body's tissues, leaving you tired and short of breath.

Iron supplements are used to regulate iron deficiency anemia. Some extra examinations or procedures might be necessary when your doctor suspects that you're bleeding internally.

Understand the symptoms

Iron deficiency anemia may start with mild and unnoticeable signs. But when anemia worsens, the condition may intensify, causing extreme fatigue, pale skin, and weakness, chest pain, headache, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath, dizziness, or lightheadedness. The other common symptoms may include poor appetite, cold hands, and feet, brittle nails, inflammation or soreness of the tongue, sudden cravings for non-nutritive substances, like ice, dirt, or starch.

Consult the doctor

When you detect signs of iron deficiency anemia in you or your kids, talk to the doctor for a diagnosis and don't take iron supplements by yourself. Excessive iron in the body is risky as more iron buildup damages the liver and results in other complications.

Know the causes

When the body doesn't have sufficient iron to produce hemoglobin, iron deficiency anemia happens. Hemoglobin lets the red blood cells transport oxygenated blood everywhere in your body. When consumption of iron is less, or iron is being lost, the body can't produce enough hemoglobin, gradually developing iron-deficiency anemia.

The leading causes for this are:

  • Blood loss. Blood has iron in red blood cells, and when blood is lost, iron is dropped. Hence, women with heavy menstrual cycles are at risk of iron deficiency anemia. The other factors of slow, chronic blood loss within the body are colon polyp or colorectal cancer, a peptic ulcer, a hiatal hernia, resulting in iron deficiency anemia. Regular use of some over-the-counter pain relievers, like aspirin, may cause gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Lack of iron-rich diet. When the diet has little iron food, over time, the body becomes iron deficient. Foods rich in iron include meat, eggs, leafy green vegetables and iron-fortified foods.
  • Iron absorbtion incapacity. The body absorbs iron from food into the bloodstream through the small intestine. But an intestinal disorder, like celiac disease, may affect the intestine's ability to absorb nutrients from digested food, resulting in iron deficiency anemia.
  • Pregnancy. Iron deficiency anemia can happen during pregnancy if iron supplements are not taken because iron stores have to serve hemoglobin for the growing fetus and the body's increased blood volume requirements.

Recognize the risk

People who are more prone to iron deficiency anemia are:

  • Women that lose blood during menstruation are often at greater risk.
  • Infants born with low birth weight or born prematurely that are not receiving enough iron from breast milk or formula milk are at risk. Children in growing years that don't eat a healthy, diverse diet are also at risk of anemia.
  • Vegetarians people not eating iron-rich foods raise their risk.
  • Regular blood donors are at greater risk as blood donation may drain iron stores, usually eating more iron-rich foods restores the deficit. When you are not allowed to donate blood because of low hemoglobin, ask the doctor if there is a need to worry.

Associated complexities

A moderate condition of iron deficiency anemia is generally not a cause complication, but when untreated for long, it may get severe, resulting in health problems like:
Heart problems. Iron deficiency anemia may lead to a fast or abnormal heartbeat that happens to pump more blood to offset the shortage of oxygen transported in your blood due to being anemic. It results in causing an enlarged heart or heart failure.
Problems during pregnancy. During pregnancy, severe iron deficiency anemia may lead to premature births and low birth weight babies. Taking iron supplements can prevent this occurrence.
Growth problems. Severe iron deficiency causes anemia and delayed growth and development in infants and children. It also causes them to be increasingly sensitive to infections.

Measures for prevention

These food habits can help reduce the risk of iron deficiency anemia:
Add iron-rich foods to your diet like red meat, pork and poultry, seafood, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach, dried fruit, like raisins and apricots, peas and iron-fortified cereals, bread and pasta. Boost your intake of iron-rich, plant-based foods to get sufficient iron in the body if you are vegetarian.
Select foods containing vitamin C as it improves iron absorption in the body. Drink citrus juice like orange juice or eat foods rich in vitamin C like kiwi, leafy greens, broccoli, grapefruit, melons, oranges, peppers, strawberries, tangerines and tomatoes when you eat high-iron foods.
For infants, breastfeeding and iron-fortified formula for the first year helps. After age six months, the baby can be fed iron-fortified cereals or pureed meats at least twice a day to boost iron intake. And post one year, children must not drink over 20 ounces (591 milliliters) of milk a day but instead have other foods that are rich in iron.

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