Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron deficiency occurs when there is not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body organs.
Hemoglobin is the main protein in the red blood cell. It carries oxygen and deliver it throughout the body. If one has anemia, the hemoglobin level will be low, and when that happens, organs may not get adequate oxygen.

As the name implies, iron deficiency anemia is due to insufficient iron. Without enough iron, your body can’t produce enough of a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen (hemoglobin). As a result, iron deficiency anemia may leave you tired and short of breath.

You can usually correct iron deficiency anemia with iron supplementation. Sometimes additional tests or treatments for iron deficiency anemia are necessary, especially if your doctor suspects that you’re bleeding internally.

SYMPTOMS OF IRON DEFICIENCY 
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
  • Headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia
CAUSES OF IRON DEFICIENCY 
  • Blood loss. Blood contains iron within red blood cells. So if you lose blood, you lose some iron. Women with heavy periods are at risk of iron deficiency anemia because they lose blood during menstruation. Slow, chronic blood loss within the body — such as from a peptic ulcer, a hiatal hernia, a colon polyp or colorectal cancer — can cause iron deficiency anemia. Gastrointestinal bleeding can result from regular use of some over-the-counter pain relievers, especially aspirin.
  • A lack of iron in your diet. Your body regularly gets iron from the foods you eat. If you consume too little iron, over time your body can become iron deficient. Examples of iron-rich foods include meat, eggs, leafy green vegetables and iron-fortified foods. For proper growth and development, infants and children need iron from their diets, too.
  • An inability to absorb iron. Iron from food is absorbed into your bloodstream in your small intestine. An intestinal disorder, such as celiac disease, which affects your intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients from digested food, can lead to iron deficiency anemia. If part of your small intestine has been bypassed or removed surgically, that may affect your ability to absorb iron and other nutrients.
  • Pregnancy. Without iron supplementation, iron deficiency anemia occurs in many pregnant women because their iron stores need to serve their own increased blood volume as well as be a source of hemoglobin for the growing fetus.

Risk factors

These groups of people may have an increased risk of iron deficiency anemia:

  • Women. Because women lose blood during menstruation, women in general are at greater risk of iron deficiency anemia.
  • Infants and children. Infants, especially those who were low birth weight or born prematurely, who don’t get enough iron from breast milk or formula may be at risk of iron deficiency. Children 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. People who don’t eat meat may have a greater risk of iron deficiency anemia if they don’t eat other iron-rich foods.
  • Frequent blood donors. People who routinely donate blood may have an increased risk of iron deficiency anemia since 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’re told that you can’t donate blood because of low hemoglobin, ask your doctor whether you should be concerned.
HOW CAN I PREVENT IRON DEFICIENCY 
Some kinds of anemia, such as those that are inherited, cannot be prevented. However, you can prevent anemia caused by iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency and vitamin B9 deficiency by eating well. This includes eating a diet with enough foods that provide iron, this will help keep hemoglobin level normal.
HOW TO MANAGE IRON DEFICIENCY 
?Following a healthy diet.
?Drinking enough water to stay hydrated.
?Exercising regularly. However, if you have been weak, you should begin exercising cautiously.
?Avoiding exposure to chemicals that set off anemia.
?Washing your hands often to avoid infection.
?Taking good care of your teeth and going to the dentist regularly.
?Talking to your doctor about any changing symptoms.
?Keeping track of your symptoms by writing them down.
Written by: Josephine Wuraola

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