What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?
Before knowing iron deficiency anemia symptoms, you should know what Iron Deficiency is? The Iron deficiency anemia is microcytic, hypo-chromic anemia, which is caused by a reduced amount of iron in the body.
Iron is used by the body to produce hemoglobin, and this substance helps in carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body in red blood cells. Iron deficiency, therefore, slows down the transference of oxygen to the organs and tissues.
This is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies and is the leading cause of anemia. The erythrocytes (red blood cells) are formed in the bone marrow and for their normal formation, maturation and entry into the blood are important a lot of different factors.
Both of these factors are iron and vitamin C, which deficit is of the most common reasons for anemia. When the body and the organs did not receive sufficient iron, it forms the disease so-called Iron deficiency anemia or chlorine anemia.
This form of anemia is the most widespread disease, which is getting over 80% of all the anemia disease. The iron deficiency anemia occurs more often in women, who are needed more from iron, due to pregnancy, lactation, and menstruation.
Read Also: Anemia meaning: Types, Symptoms & Causes
It can lead to premature labour during pregnancy and it also leads to an inability for a person to perform any physical activity because the person experiences extreme physical fatigue.
Without a sufficient amount of iron, the body can not produce enough hemoglobin.
Iron deficiency anemia symptoms
The most common symptoms of Iron deficiency anemia are not visible in the early stage of the disease. In the beginning, the illness is slow and invisible, as the slowness of the reduction of iron stores. The basic iron deficiency anemia symptoms are:
- General weakness, fatigue
- Skin pale
- Headache and reduced concentration
- Tachycardia (systolic noise of the peak heart)
- Low blood pressure
Also in the list of Iron deficiency anemia symptoms are restlessness, irritability and sleep disturbances. The first symptoms of the disease are really difficult for assimilation as they are close to normal overwork.
The first symptoms of Iron deficiency anemia are followed by Mucocutaneous symptoms, such as Plummer-Vinson syndrome. The syndrome is atrophy of the lining of the tongue, esophagus, and oropharynx.
Also, the Plummer-Vinson syndrome is defined by burning of the tongue and painful or difficulty swallowing. Also, the Mucocutaneous symptoms of Iron deficiency anemia are cracks in the lips corners, dry skin, fragile and thin hair, thin and flat nails (platonychie disease).
Definitely, the Iron deficiency anemia can be easily defined by the Mucocutaneous symptoms, which are quite unique for this disease.
Iron Deficiency Anemia Causes
- Newborns and infants need more iron than adults and older children, and their nutrition does not contain enough iron sometimes
- Blood loss leads to loss of iron, so the iron must be compensated by following a special diet or consuming iron supplements. The loss of blood (and consequently iron) occurs during heavy periods, frequent voluntary blood donations and food allergies. Iron deficiency is also caused by the presence of parasite-tapeworms in the intestines, bleeding ulcers, cancer.
- Low iron absorption from the digestive system
- Excessive reduction of red blood cells (hemolysis) as a result of other diseases
How to Prevent Iron Deficiency?
– Consume foods with high levels of vitamin C because it stimulates the absorption of iron. For example, drink a glass of orange juice with your meals.
– Whole grains are good sources of iron, but they also contain phytates, substances that slow down iron absorption, so it should not be eaten with other foods that are rich in iron.
– Limit the consumption of spinach and rhubarb oxalic acid, which is contained in these vegetables reduces iron absorption. Iron is more easily absorbed with vitamin c.
– Eat foods that contain copper, because it helps in the absorption of iron. These foods include cheese, seafood, liver, whole grains, green vegetables, apricots, cherries, and dried figs.
– Do not drink tea, coffee, cocoa, Coca-Cola and wine with your meals because tannins in these drinks prevent iron absorption.
The diagnosis of this type of anemia is made easily on the base of disease history, symptoms, clinical and laboratory tests. However, the treatment of the disease requires to be defined as the source of iron deficiency.
Sometimes it is quite harder to find this source, as it is required for successful treatment. So for full diagnosis requires more than simple blood count, as the tests, which are held for iron deficiency anemia are fiber-gastroscopy, Irig-graphy, rectified Romano eunuchs. Also part of the diagnosis is gynecological examination for the women and studies of the intestinal.
After the full diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia, the patient should be treated in an accurate and proper way. The anemia treatment passes in two stages – aetiology and substitution treatment.
The first stage is aetiology treatment, which is based on the removal of the cause of the iron deficiency. The second stage is substitution treatment, which is made with iron-consistent medicines and substances.
Both treatments are necessary for the successful and accurate cure for the disease. Even with increasing the iron in the organism, the patient is not cured, as the deficiency will return in a while because the source is not cured.
Depending on the level of your deficiency, your doctor may recommend dietary changes or supplementation. Iron supplements can be a great way to get your body’s iron levels back on track where they can then be maintained by dietary adaption. Some individuals have higher iron needs than others, meaning they may require more iron and/or iron from different sources.
The type of treatment depends on various factors such as age, general health condition and the reasons why you have an iron deficiency. The treatment begins by taking products that contain iron, usually in the form of a food additive, but the diet must be adapted to the needs of people with iron deficiency, especially if the deficiency was caused by poor nutrition in the first place.
After a certain period of taking iron additives, usually 3 months, it is necessary to check the status of hemoglobin and hematocrit for further treatment.
If you are diagnosed with anemia you will probably have to take iron supplement pills as a treatment. This treatment usually lasts for a couple of months and it is necessary not to stop taking these pills even if you feel better after a while.
If your doctor discovers an exact cause of your anemia, perhaps another illness, you will have to treat that illness too. It is very important that you do not take these pills on your own because you may use it excessively and you could even get iron poisoning.
This is also important because your iron deficiency may be caused by another illness that must be treated urgently. If your doctor recommends you to take iron pills it is important not to take them with caffeine, antacids, milk, and tea.
It is best if you take as much vitamin C as you can in addition to these pills. It usually takes 2 to 4 months of therapy to fully treat.