Iron deficiency anemia is a medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide.
Iron deficiency occurs when your body doesn’t have enough iron, which is needed to make red blood cells.
If not treated, iron deficiency anemia can cause severe health problems.
In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about iron deficiency anemia, its causes, symptoms, treatment and how to prevent this condition.
What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?
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Iron deficiency anemia is a type of anemia when the body is deficient in iron to produce hemoglobin.
Without enough iron, your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin.
There are several causes of iron deficiency anemia, including:
- Inadequate iron intake
Who is at risk of iron deficiency anemia?
Iron deficiency anemia can affect anyone, but certain individuals are at a higher risk, including:
- Women in their menstrual period
- Women giving birth
- Infants and young children not getting enough iron from foods
- Vegetarians and vegans eating plant-based diets that are low in heme iron
- People with celiac disease
- People who have had gastric bypass surgery
- People drinking too much alcohol
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia
The symptoms can vary from person to person, and others may not experience any.
Some of the common symptoms include:
- Pale Skin
- Shortness of Breath
- Chest Pain
- Cold Hands and Feet
- Heart palpitations
Diagnosis of Iron Deficiency Anemia
If you suspect iron deficiency in your blood, your healthcare provider may perform the following tests:
- Full blood count: Measures the number of RBCs, white blood cells, and platelets in your blood.
- Iron studies: Measuring your serum iron, total iron-binding capacity, and ferritin levels.
- Stool test: Checking for gastrointestinal bleeding
The normal levels of iron in the blood according to age, gender, and other factors is as follows:
- For adult men: 65 to 176 mcg/dL
- For adult women: 50 to 170 mcg/dL
- For children: 50 to 120 mcg/dL
Treatment of Iron Deficiency Anemia
To treat this condition, its important to find out what caused it, before giving the right treatment.
If the condition is mild, eating more iron-rich foods could help replace iron in your blood but that is not enough.
For chronic cases, medications can be of great help as well. Here are a few examples:
Oral Iron Supplements
It is available in various forms, such as ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate, and ferrous fumarate.
Intravenous Iron Therapy
In some cases, iron supplements may not be effective, so intravenous iron therapy may be needed at this point. This involves injecting iron directly into a vein.
ESAs stimulate the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells, which can help reduce anemia.
Prevention of Iron Deficiency Anemia
The following steps can help prevent iron deficiency anemia:
- Avoid tetracycline antibiotics such as doxycycline
- Avoid smoking cigarettes
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Eat iron-rich foods
- Eat foods rich in vitamin C
- Control menstrual bleeding by using hormonal birth control pills
If your only option is to eat foods rich in iron, then you should follow the RDI guidelines for iron, to ensure your body gets the right amount.
Here are the recommended daily intakes for iron according to the National Institutes of Health:
- Infants 0-6 months: 0.27 mg
- Infants 7-12 months: 11 mg
- Children 1-3 years: 7 mg
- Children 4-8 years: 10 mg
- Males 9-13 years: 8 mg
- Males 14-18 years: 11 mg
- Males 19-50 years: 8 mg
- Males over 50 years: 8 mg
- Females 9-13 years: 8 mg
- Females 14-18 years: 15 mg
- Females 19-50 years: 18 mg
- Females over 50 years: 8 mg
- Pregnant women: 27 mg
- Breastfeeding moms: 9-10 mg
Conclusion: What to Know About Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia can cause significant health problems if not taken seriously.
The good news is that it is easily treatable with iron supplements, iron-rich foods, vitamin C, and infusion therapy.
If you suspect any symptoms of iron deficiency anemia, see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Getting the right treatment can help you feel better and improve your health and wellbeing.