Iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. It affects as many as 20% of all women, 3% of all men, and up to 50% of all pregnant women. Infants, children and adolescents are at high risk of developing this disorder due to their high rate of growth. Iron deficiency anemia is a disease where the human body is low on stores of iron. Iron is the key component of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. It also is an important component in the production of healthy red blood cells. The red blood cells function is the transportation of oxygen in those cells to various parts of the body. In addition to providing oxygen to the various tissues and organs of the body, these red blood cells provide the body with energy and give our skin its rosy color.

In iron deficiency anemia the body is low on iron. We normally get our iron from our dietary sources. However there are many reasons that we can become anemic due to a deficiency of iron. The body normally stores iron in the red blood cells and in the bone marrow. It will if not given the adequate amounts of iron in the diet deplete those sources first before allowing the blood cells to become depleted of the oxygen needed by the body to function. Some reasons for iron deficiency anemia would include not enough iron in the diet. Foods that are rich in iron include meats, fish, eggs, legumes, poultry, whole grains and whole grain foods, and raisins. Some vegans and vegetarians may have issues with getting enough iron in their diets due to not eating the meat sources listed above.

Another reason for iron deficiency anemia is poor absorption of dietary iron. These people may have enough iron in their diet but are unable to absorb enough of the substance either in the stomach or intestines to provide adequate iron for the red blood cells to be produced and function. People who are at risk of this problem are people who have Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, have had gastric bypass surgery, and people who take antacids. People who have this problem will need to consult with their physician and set up iron injections as iron tablets as supplements are usually not sufficient in these cases.

Blood loss is another reason for iron deficiency anemia. One reason that women are more likely to develop iron deficiency anemia than men is the fact that women have menstrual periods. Heavy bleeding during menstruation can lead to anemia. Other types of blood loss would include loss from trauma or injury and gastrointestinal blood loss due to peptic ulcer disease. People who have used aspirin and other NSAID’s long term are much more likely to have bleeding tendencies and are at risk of having iron deficiency anemia.

Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding have a very high rate of having iron deficiency anemia. This is the reason that all women who are either pregnant or breastfeeding should be supplemented with prenatal vitamins that include an iron supplement. This along with careful monitoring of the red blood cell counts and hemoglobin during prenatal visits will usually keep iron deficiency anemia from becoming a problem for most pregnant women.

Others who are at high risk for this disease are infants and children due to their high rate of growth. They should have a good diet as well as a vitamin supplement that includes iron. Anyone concerned that their child is getting enough iron should consult with their pediatrician for recommendations as to which supplement or vitamins to purchase.

Ways to test for iron deficiency anemia include a complete blood count which includes hematocrit and hemoglobin, a serum iron level, a serum ferritin level, and serum iron binding capacity in the blood. These laboratory tests can be performed by any physician or medical professional to rule out anemia.

Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include skin that is very pale, shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, generalized weakness, brittle nails, decreased appetite, unusual food cravings such as pica, and irritability. If you feel that you might have this disease please consult with your physician for an examination and proper testing.

Last updated on Dec 5th, 2009 and filed under Other Conditions & Diseases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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