Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Anaemia is a condition that indicates a depleting number of healthy red blood cells (RBCs) or a reduced amount of haemoglobin (Hb) within them.

The iron-rich protein in red blood cells is called haemoglobin (Hb). It carries oxygen from the lungs to the body's organs and tissues and returns carbon dioxide to the lungs to exhale.

The bone marrow produces red blood cells; they live for nearly 120 days and die later.

There are several different types of anaemia, but each of them causes a decrease in circulating red blood cells.

Iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) means that the body does not have enough iron. Iron is important to perform several important body functions, such as helping with the production of haemoglobin. It is vital to maintaining healthy cells, hair, skin, and nails. Iron aids in a healthy pregnancy, increased energy, and better athletic performance. This anaemia usually affects more women than men and is common during pregnancy.

The most common type of anaemia is Iron deficiency anaemia (IDA), which is a common nutritional deficiency disease.

iron deficiency anaemia

Iron deficiency symptoms

Iron deficiency anaemia symptoms vary among individuals. Initially, they can be mild, but after a prolonged period as the deficiency worsens, the signs and symptoms become evident.

Anaemia signs and symptoms are as follows:


When to see a doctor?

Book an appointment with the doctor if you develop signs and symptoms that indicate iron deficiency anaemia. Consult your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment rather than taking iron supplements yourself. Iron overload in the body can be harmful because unwanted iron accumulation can cause damage to the liver, heart, pancreas and also other complications.

Consult our general physicians and haematologists for more information and adequate treatment for anaemia.


Causes

The causes of Iron-deficiency anaemia are as follows:

Low iron diet:

Ideally, iron should be obtained from the diet. Therefore, if a person is not consuming iron-rich foods, there is a high risk of developing iron-deficiency anaemia.

Changes in the body:

Increased iron requirement and more red blood cell production is needed when the body is changing during pregnancy and breastfeeding. For children, this may occur at the time of growth development during adolescence.

Gastrointestinal tract problems:

Iron malabsorption is common after a few gastrointestinal operations. People having a GI condition may be more prone to IDA even though they're consuming enough iron in their meals. This usually happens when gastrointestinal disorders prevent iron absorption in the body.

Loss of blood:

Blood contains red blood cells and iron. Rapid blood loss occurs during surgical procedures, trauma and childbirth. Chronic blood loss is the main cause of anaemia. It can be due to haemorrhoids, hiatal hernia, a colon polyp or colorectal cancer, stomach ulcer, gastritis, tumour or heavy menstrual bleeding. It is also caused due to the regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, mainly aspirin and ibuprofen.


Risk Factors

The risk of iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) increases due to the following factors:

In women:

Iron deficiency resulting from heavy menstrual bleeding is very common. In women of reproductive age, IDA is the most common cause.

Infants and children:

Newborns with low birth weight or premature babies who don't get sufficient iron from breast milk or formula are more prone to iron deficiency. Young children need extra iron for growth development. Children who fail to get adequate iron from iron-rich foods or iron supplements are more prone to developing nutritional anaemia.

Vegetarians

Vegetarians have more frequent depleted iron stores.

Frequent blood donations:

Iron Deficiency Anaemia is common among individuals who frequently donate blood. Low haemoglobin count related to blood donation can be rectified by eating more iron-rich foods or taking iron tablets for anaemia.

Complications

The iron deficiency anaemia complications include:

  • Heart problems
  • Depression
  • Growth retardation in children
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Pregnancy complications

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask for the patient's medical history and perform a physical examination to diagnose the symptoms.

Iron deficiency anaemia diagnosis is made by blood tests, including a complete blood count (CBC). The doctor may recommend more tests to evaluate iron levels, serum ferritin, total iron-binding capacity, and transferrin. Iron deficiency tests usually show the following results: Low haemoglobin (Hg) and hematocrit (Hct)

  • Low mean cellular volume (MCV)
  • Low serum iron (FE)
  • Low ferritin
  • Low iron saturation
  • High transferrin or total iron-binding capacity (TIBC)

A peripheral blood smear test may show small, microcytic and hypochromic red blood cells in chronic iron deficiency anaemia. The white blood cell count (WBCs) may be low, and the platelet count may be high or low.

Additional iron deficiency tests include:

  • Upper and lower endoscopy
  • Faecal occult blood test
  • Gynecologic evaluation in women
  • Test for hematuria or hemoglobinuria

Treatment

Iron deficiency anaemia treatment depends on how severe the anaemia is and what are its underlying problems. Below are some treatment options:

Blood loss from a gastrointestinal problem:

In the case of an ulcer, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics or other medications to treat the condition. The bleeding caused by a cancerous tumour or a polyp will need surgery to remove it.

Blood loss from heavy menstrual periods:

In case of mild anaemia due to iron malabsorption or lower iron levels, the doctor may recommend:

  • In case of mild anaemia due to iron malabsorption or lower iron levels, the doctor may recommend:
    • Iron tablets to build up iron levels as quickly as possible. Iron supplements are available in the form of tablets, capsules, chewable tablets, and liquids. Take iron pills only as per your doctor's prescription.

Eat iron-rich foods such as:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Dried fruits
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Peas
  • Fortified foods

Consuming a diet rich in vitamin C foods may help as vitamin C is known to help the body absorb iron. Foods that provide vitamin C are oranges, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwi, blackcurrants, etc.

In serious cases, including shortness of breath and chest pain, the doctor may suggest red blood cell transfusions. Usually Uncommon, blood transfusions are preferred for cases with severe iron deficiencies only.


Dos and Don’ts

Follow the below mentioned Do’s and Don’ts to prevent iron deficiency disease and its complications. IDA is a common nutritional disease worldwide and it is mainly found in women, young children, people with GI tract problems or in cases of severe loss of blood.

Do’sDon’ts
Eat iron-rich foodsIgnore anaemia signs and symptoms
Consume vitamin C rich foodsSmoke
Take only prescribed iron supplementsTake iron with antacids
Regularly exerciseConsume excess amounts of alcohol
Regular health check-upEat processed and junk foodsEat processed and junk foods

Iron deficiency anaemia symptoms include weakness, dizziness, headaches, pale or yellow skin, irregular heartbeat, and brittle nails. Its treatment involves consuming iron-rich foods and taking iron supplements. Certain severe cases may involve red blood cell transfusion as well.


Iron Deficiency Anaemia Care at Medicover Hospitals

At Medicover hospitals, we have the most experienced and trusted medical team consisting of general physicians and haematologists who provide the best management for iron deficiency anaemia. We are dedicated to providing excellent healthcare services to our patients in a holistic manner. Our team adopts a multidimensional approach to manage anaemia and its related complications with utmost care and active participation of medical experts from different specialties. We ensure world-class healthcare facilities at affordable costs in all our departments to ensure high-quality treatment outcomes.

Make an appointment just in few minutes - Call Us Now