What is iron deficiency anemia?


What is iron deficiency anemia?

The role of the red blood cells in our blood is to carryoxygen. Anemia means the absence of adequate healthy, normal red bloodcells in the blood. Blood can not carry the required amount of oxygen tothe body in anemia, and this causes fatigue. Inside the red bloodcells, a substance called hemoglobin, carries oxygen and it is thesubstance that gives the red color to the blood due to the inclusion ofiron in its structure. If a sufficient amount of iron isn’t available aspart of the nutrients consumed as part of a person’s food, then thebody cannot produce hemoglobin. As a result the red blood cells cannotcarry sufficient amount of oxygen. This kind of anemia is called as”iron deficiency anemia”.

Which foods contain iron?

Red and white meat, liver, tuna, halibut, lentil, soya bean,haricot bean, spinach, peas, grape molasses, grapes, and whole grainbread.

The symptoms of iron deficiency anemia:

  • Fatigue
  • Paleness of the skin
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Cognitive problems
  • Coldness of the hands and feet
  • Headache

Worldwide, one out of 3 people suffer from iron deficiency anemia.The causes of iron deficiency anemia are either dietary insufficiency,or inadequate iron absorption, or extreme blood loss.

When does the iron requirement increase?

  • Women in the reproductive age group
  • Pregnancy
  • Prematurity or low birth weight
  • Childhood
  • Adolescent girls

Since their iron requirements are high, the risk of iron deficiency is higher in these groups.


Can we prevent iron deficiency anemia?

If you cannot consume sufficient amounts of iron in your diet,then your doctor may recommend iron supplements. The World HealthOrganization recommends taking more than one vitamin-mineralsupplements, since vitamin-mineral deficiencies generally occurtogether. Deficiency of iron, zinc, folic acid, vitamins A and C aremost frequently seen.

Other anemias

  • Vitamin deficiency anemias: Folic acid and vitamin B12
  • Chronic disease anemia: Anemia can arise as the result of some long term diseases: cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease. Renal failure also causes anemia.
  • Aplastic anemia: It is a rare form of anemia. In this disorder, bone marrow can not produce the blood cells. It is a severe disease.
  • Anemias related to bone marrow diseases: The bone marrow cannot produce sufficient amounts of red blood cells in some diseases such as leukemia, myelodysplasia, multiple myeloma, and lymphomas.
  • Hemolytic anemia: It’s a kind of anemia where red blood cells easily break down. They break up so rapidly that the bone marrow cannot replace them fast enough. This can be the result of some diseases that cause immune system dysfunction, or be caused by some drugs.
  • Sickle- cell anemia: A hereditary disease. There is an abnormality in the hemoglobin, and while red blood cells are normally disk-shaped, in this disease they are crescent-shaped, like a sickle.
  • Thalassemia: A hereditary disease related to a specific hemoglobin abnormality.
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