Iron Deficiency Anemia

               Iron Deficiency anemia

Meat - A Good Source of Iron

         As its name implies iron deficiency anemia occurs due to deficiency of iron. It is the most common anemia among all anemia types. Mainly the developing countries are worst affected by this condition. Nearly one third population of world faces iron deficiency and in developing  countries this proportion is even larger. Let us see the the causes of iron deficiency anemia and will then discuss about how to prevent it and how to deal with it if it has already occurred. 

Rich sources of Iron

Causes of iron deficiency are : 
  • Reduced iron intake in food : Regular consumption of food that is low in iron content leads to deficiency of iron. This food can be low in iron content or may be containing low quality iron in food. The iron from meat is heme iron and it is absorbed better from food that non heme iron like that from plant and vegetable sources.
  • Inability to absorb iron from food : 
  • If food contains excessive tanins, caffeins then iron can not be absorbed into blood.
  • Food containing excess animal leads to reduced absorption of iron in blood leading to iron deficiency anemia.
  • Certain rare disease conditions that are genetic, the affected persons can not absorb iron from food to blood.
  • Increased need of iron in certain conditions like puberty, pregnancy : These conditions lead to increased need of iron to meet the increased demand of body. If iron storage in body is inadequate or food without inadequate iron content is taken then it leads to iron deficiency anemia.
  • Increased loss of iron like chronic loss of blood in stool, heavy menstruation, chronic epistaxis : 
  • ​Chronic blood loss in stool : like in worm infection, menstruation.

         In above all caused food which is deficient in iron is most common cause of iron deficiency anemia. The majority of world population in developing countries eat food deficient in iron. Additionally they commonly have worm infestation leading to double effect of iron deficient food and and chronic blood loss in stool leading to iron deficiency anemia.

         Food sources rich in iron : Green leafy vegetables, spinach, red fruits, beat root, yellow fruits, lentils, meat, oat meal, grains and legumes.

What are effects of iron deficiency anemia :
  • Fatigue, feeling of loss of energy.
  • increased paleness.
  • Increased tendency of stroke and thrombotic hemi-paralysis.
  • Growth failure in children. They may remain stunted or may fail to gain weight.
  • If remains for prolonged time and is sever may lead to enlargement of heart and heart failure, Breathlessness, palpitations, chest pain.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Decreased scholastic performance.
  • Decreased IQ.
  • Increased complications of pregnancy.
  • Spoon shaped concave nails.
  • May show causes like blood in stool, heavy menstruation.
  • Body swelling in extreme cases.
  • Decreased capacity of doing mental or physical work.​

How to prevent iron deficiency anemia?
  • Get adequate amount of iron containing food in diet.
  • Avoid too much coffee and tea. Avoid tea in children and pregnant women.
  • Get de-worming done for children on regular basis. Many national health programs are making is available world wide for free.
  • Get weekly iron supplement for children and adolescent girls.
  • Promote iron supplements for pregnant and lactating mothers and Infants.

How to diagnose iron deficiency anemia?
  • Can be easily diagnosed by your doctor based on dietary and other complains in history.
  • You need to undergo physical examination by a qualified doctor to find out exact cause of this condition and to rule out other conditions with similar presentation.
  • Doctor may suggest some blood tests like CBC, Peripheral blood smear exam, serum ferritin levels, and other blood tests if needed. Stool routine microscopy and stool for occult blood test can be done to find out the cause.

What is treatment for iron deficiency anemia?
  • If the anemia is acute due to blood loss or the heart is failing because of anemia the anemia is needed to corrected urgently then blood transfusion is the choice of treatment. Then iron supplement is started.
  • Majority if iron deficiency cases are chronic and they can be treated oral iron preparation.
  • Iron is available in syrups, tablets or capsule form. Need to be taken for 3 to 6 months.
  • If patient is not taking oral iron or it is not tolerable then injection form of iron can be used. 


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