Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Iron deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia - a condition in which there is a lack of sufficient healthy red blood cells in the blood. Red blood cells carry oxygen to body tissues. As is clear from the name itself, iron deficiency anemia is caused by insufficient iron. Without sufficient iron, your body cannot produce enough of a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen (hemoglobin). As a result, iron deficiency anemia can leave you tired and short of breath. You can usually cure iron deficiency anemia with iron supplements. Sometimes additional tests or treatments are necessary for iron deficiency anemia, especially if your doctor suspects that you are bleeding internally.
Initially, iron deficiency anemia can be so mild that it goes unnoticed. But as the body is deficient in iron and the anemia worsens, the signs and symptoms increase. Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia may include "Excessive fatigue, Weakness, pale skin, Chest pain, palpitations or shortness of breath, Headache, dizziness or asthenia, Cold hands and feet, Swelling or sore tongue, brittle nails, Unusual craving for non-nutrients such as ice, dirt, or starch, Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia.
If you or your child develops signs and symptoms that suggest iron-deficiency anemia, see your doctor. Iron deficiency anemia is nothing to self diagnose or treat. So see your doctor for a diagnosis rather than taking iron supplements on your own. Overloading the body with iron can be dangerous because the accumulation of excess iron can damage your liver and cause other complications.
Iron deficiency anemia occurs when your body does not have enough iron to produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the part of red blood cells that gives blood its red color and enables red blood cells to carry oxygen-rich blood to your body. If you are not consuming enough iron, or if you are losing too much iron, your body cannot produce enough hemoglobin, and iron deficiency anemia will eventually develop.
Causes of iron deficiency anemia include:
Blood loss: Blood contains iron within red blood cells. So if you lose blood, you lose some iron. Iron deficiency in women with heavy periods is at risk of anemia as they lose blood during menstruation. Slow, chronic blood loss within the body - such as peptic ulcer, a Hitler hernia, a colon polyp or colorectal cancer - can cause iron-deficiency anemia.
Gastrointestinal bleeding may result from regular use of some over-the-counter painkillers, especially aspirin.
Lack of iron in your diet: Your body gets iron from the foods you eat regularly. If you consume very little iron, your body may become deficient in iron over time. Examples of iron-rich foods include meat, eggs, leafy green vegetables, and iron-fortified foods. For proper growth and development, infants and children also need iron from their diet.
Inability to absorb iron: Iron from food is absorbed into your bloodstream in your small intestine. Intestinal disorders, such as celiac disease, that affect your intestines' ability to absorb nutrients from digested food, can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. If part of your small intestine has been bypassed or surgically removed, it may affect your ability to absorb iron and other nutrients.
Without iron supplementation, many pregnant women have iron deficiency anemia because their iron stores must be a source of hemoglobin for their own increased blood volume as well as the growing fetus.
The risk factors are:
Iron deficiency may increase the risk of anemia in these groups of people:
Women: Because women are anemic during menstruation, women are, in general, at greater risk of iron-deficiency anemia.
Infants and children: Infants, especially those who were underweight at birth or were born prematurely, who do not get enough iron from breast milk or maybe at risk of iron deficiency in the formula. Children need extra iron during development. If your child is not eating a healthy, varied diet, he may be at risk of anemia.
Vegetarians: People who do not eat meat may have a higher risk of iron deficiency anemia if they do not eat other iron-rich foods.
Repeated blood donors: In people who donate blood regularly, iron deficiency can increase the risk of anemia as blood donation can exhaust iron stores. Eating less iron-rich foods related to blood donation can be a temporary problem. If you are told that you cannot donate blood due to low hemoglobin, ask your doctor if you should be worried.
Mild iron deficiency anemia does not usually cause complications. However, left untreated, iron deficiency anemia can be severe and can lead to health problems including:
Heart problems: Iron deficiency anemia can give rise to a rapid or irregular heartbeat. When you are anemic, your heart will have to pump more blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen in your blood. This can lead to an enlarged heart or heart failure.
Problems during pregnancy: In pregnant women, severe iron deficiency anemia has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight babies. But the condition can be prevented in pregnant women who receive iron supplements as part of their prenatal care.
Body development problems: In infants and children, severe iron deficiency can cause anemia as well as delayed growth and development. Additionally, iron deficiency anemia is associated with increased susceptibility to infection.
You can reduce your risk of iron deficiency anemia by choosing foods containing iron. Choose foods with iron. Foods rich in iron include:
Red meat, pork, and poultry,
Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach,
Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots,
Iron-fortified cereals, pieces of bread and pastas,
Your body absorbs more iron from meat than it does from other sources. If you prefer not to eat meat, you may need to increase your intake of iron-rich, plant-based foods, because the person who eats meat consumes as much iron.
Choose foods rich in vitamin C to increase iron absorption:
You can increase the absorption of iron in your body at the same time by drinking sour juice or eating other foods rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C in citrus juice, like orange juice, helps your body absorb dietary iron better.
Vitamin C is also found in:
Preventing iron deficiency anemia in infants:
To prevent iron deficiency anemia in infants, feed your baby with milk or iron-fortified formula for the first year. Cow milk is not a good source of iron for infants and is not recommended for infants under 1 year of age. After the age of 6 months, begin feeding your child with iron-fortified grains or puree meats at least twice a day to boost iron intake. After one year, make sure that the children do not drink more than 20 ounces (591 ml) of milk a day. Too much milk often replaces other foods, which are rich in iron.
Medications in Ayurveda:
Abhrak Bhasma, Loha Bhasma, Mandoor Bhasma, Swarn Makshik Bhasma, Punarnavadi Mandoor, Navayas Loha, Kumaryasav, Lohasav, Rohitkarist, Dhatri Loha, Arogya Vardhini Bati are being considered as Iron tonic.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. These are only based on the study and practical performances. We do not recommend any of the above medicines to directly intake or to do not use this information to diagnose or ayurvedic treatment of kids-health and/or colic pain without consulting the doctor. Consult your physician before beginning an exercise regime.