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Iron Deficiency Anemia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Written by Girish Khera on

Anemia is a condition in which there is a lack of sufficient healthy red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a part of the red blood cells that binds to the oxygen and carries it throughout the body. When there is insufficient hemoglobin circulating in the body, not enough oxygen gets supplied. The body needs iron to produce hemoglobin. When there is insufficient iron in the body, not enough hemoglobin can be produced and hence not enough oxygen reaches all parts of the body. Anemia due to inadequate iron is called iron deficiency anemia. This is one of the most common types of anemia. It leaves a person tired and short of breath.
    Comparison between Normal Blood and Anemic Blood


        The symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are very mild in the beginning and in most cases go unnoticed. However as this condition progresses , the symptoms intensify. The most common signs and symptoms are extreme fatigue, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, brittle nails, craving for non nutritive diet, cold hands and feet, poor appetite, headaches and soreness or inflammation in the tongue.


          When the body does not have enough iron to produce hemoglobin, iron deficiency anemia occurs. Hemoglobin is the part of red blood cells that gives blood its colour and makes it possible for the red blood cells to carry oxygenated blood to the entire body. So the direct cause of iron deficiency anemia is the lack of sufficient iron in the body. If the consumption of iron is not enough, or if there is loss of iron by the body, or if the body is unable to produce hemoglobin, iron deficiency anemia develops in the body. The reasons why a person may be having iron deficiency are poor diet, blood loss, pregnancy, decreased ability of the body to absorb iron.


              To treat iron deficiency anemia, usually iron supplements are prescribed. Iron tablets can cause constipation, so laxatives or stool softeners may also be prescribed along with the iron tablets. Iron tablets must be taken along with vitamin C so as to ensure absorption. Other than prescribing iron supplements, the underlying cause of iron deficiency such as excessive bleeding is also commonly treated. A diet rich in iron is also prescribed. Green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and fortified cereals are often helpful.
                Mild iron deficiency anemia may not cause much problem but if left untreated then it can get quite severe and can cause complications such as heart problems, problems during pregnancy and growth problems in infants and children. The risk of getting iron deficiency anemia can commonly be reduced by having a diet rich in iron such as green leafy vegetables, seafood, nuts, dried fruits, beans and peas. To ensure the absorption of iron from these foods, foods rich in vitamin C must also be included at the same time.
                  Disclaimer: The information in no way constitutes, or should be construed as medical advice. Nor is the above article an endorsement of any research findings discussed in the article an endorsement for any of the source publications.



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