As the name implies, iron deficiency anemia is a result of insufficient iron.
Without sufficient iron, your body can’t produce enough of a chemical in red blood cells that enable them to carry oxygen (hemoglobin).
Because of this, iron deficiency anemia may leave you exhausted and short of breath.
You can generally fix iron deficiency anemia with iron supplementation.
Sometimes additional tests or treatments for iron deficiency anemia are necessary, particularly if your physician suspects that you are bleeding internally.
Initially, iron deficiency anemia can be so mild that it goes undetected. But since the body becomes more deficient in iron and anemia worsens, the signs and symptoms intensify.
Iron deficiency anemia signs and symptoms might include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Chest pain, Quick heartbeat, or shortness of breath
- Headache, nausea, or lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Brittle nails
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt, or starch
- Poor appetite, especially in babies and children with iron deficiency anemia
When to see a Physician:
Should you or your child develops signs and symptoms that suggest iron deficiency anemia, see your doctor. Iron deficiency anemia is not something to self-diagnose or cure.
So see your doctor for a diagnosis instead of taking iron supplements by yourself.
Overloading the entire body with iron can be harmful because excessive iron accumulation can damage your liver and cause other complications.
Iron deficiency anemia occurs when your body doesn’t have enough iron to produce hemoglobin.
Hemoglobin is the part of red blood cells that gives blood its red color and empowers the red blood cells to carry oxygenated blood through the human entire body.
In case you aren’t consuming enough iron, or whether you’re losing too much iron, your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin, and iron deficiency anemia will eventually develop.
Causes of iron deficiency anemia include:
Blood reduction. Blood contains iron within red blood cells. Therefore, if you eliminate blood, you eliminate some iron.
Women with heavy periods are at risk of iron deficiency anemia because they shed blood through menstruation.
Slow, chronic blood loss in the body — like in the peptic ulcer, a hiatal hernia, a colon polyp, or colorectal cancer can lead to iron deficiency anemia.
Gastrointestinal bleeding may result from regular use of some over-the-counter pain relievers, especially aspirin.
A deficiency of iron in your diet. Your body frequently gets iron from the foods that you eat. If you consume too little iron, then over time your body can become iron deficient.
Cases of iron-rich foods include meat, eggs, leafy green veggies, and iron-fortified foods.
For proper growth and development, babies and children want iron in their diets, also.
An inability to absorb iron. Iron out of food is absorbed into your blood on your gut. An autoimmune disease, such as celiac disease, which affects your intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients from digested food, may cause iron deficiency anemia.
If part of your gut has been bypassed or removed surgically, that might affect your ability to absorb iron and other nutritional supplements.
Pregnancy. Without iron supplementation, iron deficiency anemia occurs in many pregnant women because their iron stores will need to serve their personal increased blood volume as well as be a source of hemoglobin for the growing fetus.
These kinds of individuals can have an increased risk of iron deficiency anemia:
Women’s. Because women eliminate blood during puberty, girls, in general, are at greater risk of iron deficiency anemia.
Babies and Kids. Infants, especially those who were low birth or born prematurely, who do not get enough iron from breast milk or formula may be at risk of iron deficiency.
Kids need extra iron during growth spurts. If your child isn’t eating a healthy, varied diet, he or she may be at risk of anemia.
Vegetarians. Individuals who do not consume meat might have a greater risk of iron deficiency anemia if they don’t eat other iron-rich foods.
Regular blood donors. Individuals who routinely donate blood may have an increased risk of iron deficiency anemia because blood donation can deplete iron stores.
Low hemoglobin related to blood donation may be a temporary problem remedied by eating more iron-rich foods.
If you are told that you can not donate blood because of low hemoglobin, ask your physician whether you ought to worry about
Mild iron deficiency anemia usually does not cause complications.
Heart problems. Iron deficiency anemia can result in a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Your heart must pump blood vessels to compensate for the shortage of oxygen carried in your blood when you’re anemic. This may result in an enlarged heart or heart failure.
Problems during pregnancy. In elderly women, severe iron deficiency anemia has been associated with premature births and low birth weight infants.
But the condition is preventable in elderly women who receive iron supplements as part of their prenatal care.
Growth problems. In babies and children, acute iron deficiency can cause anemia in addition to delayed growth and development.
Additionally, iron deficiency anemia is associated with increased susceptibility to diseases.
You may decrease your risk of iron deficiency anemia by choosing iron-rich foods.
- Red meat, poultry, and pork
- Dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach
- Dried fruit, like raisins and apricots
Your system absorbs more iron than it will from other sources.
In the event you opt to not eat meat, you might need to increase your intake of iron-rich, plant-based foods to absorb the exact same quantity of iron as does someone who eats beef.
Choose foods containing Vitamin C to improve iron absorption
You can boost your body’s absorption of iron from ingesting citrus juice or eating other foods rich in vitamin C at precisely the exact same time that you eat high-iron foods.
Vitamin C in citrus juices, like orange juice, also helps your body to absorb iron.
Vitamin C is also found in:
- Leafy greens
Preventing iron deficiency anemia in babies:
To avoid iron deficiency anemia in babies, feed your baby breast milk or iron-fortified formulation to your first year.
Cow’s milk is not a good source of iron for infants and is not suggested for babies under 1 year.
After age 6 months, start feeding your baby iron-fortified cereals or pureed meats two or more times per day to improve iron consumption.
After one year, make sure children don’t drink over 20 oz (591 milliliters) of milk a day.
An excessive amount of milk often takes the place of different foods, including those that are rich in iron.
To diagnose iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor can run tests to look for:
Red blood cell dimensions and color. With iron deficiency anemia, red blood cells are smaller and paler in color than normal.
Hematocrit. This is the percentage of your blood volume made up of red blood cells.
Normal levels are generally between 35.5 and 44.9 percent for mature women and 38.3 to 48.6 percent for mature men. These values can change based on your age.
Hemoglobin. Lower than normal hemoglobin levels indicate anemia.
The normal hemoglobin range is generally defined as 13.2 to 16.6 grams (g) of hemoglobin per deciliter (dL) of blood vessels for men and 11.6 into 15. G/dL for women.
This protein helps store iron in your body, and also a low level of ferritin generally indicates a very low level of iron.
Additional diagnostic tests:
In case your bloodwork indicates iron deficiency anemia, your doctor may order additional tests to identify an underlying cause, such as:
Endoscopy. Doctors often check for bleeding in the hiatal hernia, an ulcer, or the stomach with the aid of an endoscopy.
In this procedure, a thin, lighted tube armed with a video camera is passed down your throat to your stomach.
This permits your doctor to view the tube which runs from the mouth to your stomach (stomach ) and your stomach to look for sources of bleeding.
Colonoscopy. To rule out reduced intestinal sources of bleeding, your doctor may suggest a procedure called a colonoscopy.
A thin, flexible tube equipped with a video camera is inserted into the rectum and directed into your colon. You are usually sedated during this test.
A colonoscopy allows your physician to view inside some or all of your colon and rectum to look for internal bleeding.
Ultrasound. The woman may also have a pelvic ultrasound to search for the cause of excess menstrual discomforts, such as uterine fibroids.
Your doctor may order these or other tests after a trial period of therapy with iron supplementation.
To treat iron deficiency your doctor may prescribe to take iron supplements.
Your health care provider will also treat the root cause of your iron deficiency if needed.
Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter iron tablets to replenish the iron stores in your physique.
Your health care provider will let you know the right dose for you. Iron is also available in liquid form for infants and children.
To enhance the chances Your body will absorb the iron from the pills, you may be instructed to:
Take iron pills on an empty stomach. If possible, choose your iron tablets when your stomach is empty.
But because iron tablets can upset your stomach, you may need to take your iron pills with meals.
Do not take iron together with antacids. Medications that instantly alleviate heartburn symptoms may interfere with the absorption of iron.
Take iron tablets with vitamin C. Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron. Your physician might recommend taking your iron tablets with a glass of orange juice with a vitamin C supplement.
The iron supplements can lead to constipation, so your physician may also recommend a stool softener. Iron may turn your stools black, and it is a harmless side effect.
Iron deficiency can’t be fixed overnight. You may need to take iron supplements for many months or longer to replenish your iron reserves.
Generally, you will begin to feel better after a week or so of therapy.
Ask your doctor when to have your blood rechecked to quantify your iron levels.
To be sure that your iron reserves are replenished, you may have to take iron supplements for a year or longer.
Treating underlying causes of iron deficiency
If iron supplements do not raise your blood-iron levels, it’s probably the anemia is due to a source of bleeding or an iron-absorption problem that your health care provider will have to investigate and treat.
Based on the cause, iron deficiency anemia treatment may involve:
- Antibiotics and other medications to treat peptic ulcers
- Medications, such as oral contraceptives to lighten heavy menstrual flow
- Surgery to remove a bleeding polyp, a tumor, or a fibroid
If iron deficiency anemia is severe, you might need iron given intravenously or you may require blood transfusions to help replace iron and hemoglobin quickly.
Preparing for your appointment:
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs and symptoms that worry you.
If you are diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, you may need tests to look for a supply of blood flow, such as evaluations to analyze your gastrointestinal tract.
Here’s some information that will help you get prepared for the appointment, and what to expect from your physician.
What you can do:
- Write down any symptoms you are experiencing, including any that might appear irrelevant to the reason that you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down crucial private information, such as any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Create a list of medications, vitamins, or supplements you’re taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your physician is limited, so preparing a listing of questions will allow you to make the most of your time together.
For iron deficiency anemia, some fundamental questions to ask your doctor include:
- What’s the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes for the symptoms?
- Is my state likely temporary or long-lasting?
- Are there any options for this key approach that you’re suggesting?
- I have another health condition. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Are there any dietary restrictions I want to follow?
Are there any brochures or other printed material I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the queries that you’ve prepared to ask your doctor, do not be afraid to ask questions during your consultation.
What to expect from your doctor:
Your doctor is likely to ask you a range of queries. Becoming prepared to answer them may book a time to go over things that you want to spend more time with.
Your Physician may ask:
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- How severe are the symptoms?
- Does anything appear to improve your symptoms?
- Perhaps you have noticed unusual bleeding, such as heavy periods, bleeding from hemorrhoids, or nosebleeds?
- Are you a vegetarian?
- Have you recently given blood more than once?
Ask your friends and loved ones for support.
If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, consider joining a support group or seeking counseling. Believe in your ability to take control of the pain…
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