Iron Deficiency Anemia: What Is It?

When your red blood cells have less hemoglobin, you have anemia (RBCs). Your RBCs include a protein called hemoglobin, which is in charge of delivering oxygen to your tissues.

Iron deficiency The most typical type of anemia is anemia. It happens when your body lacks iron, which is necessary for the production of hemoglobin. The remainder of your body cannot receive the necessary amount of oxygen when there is insufficient iron in the blood.

Iron deficiency anemia may be common, yet many people are unaware they have it. Without being aware of the source, symptoms could persist for years.

A prevalent cause of iron deficiency anemia in women of reproductive age.

A loss of iron in the blood is brought on by a heavy period of pregnancy, according to Trusted Source. Iron deficiency anemia can also be brought on by a poor diet or certain intestinal conditions that interfere with the body’s ability to absorb iron.

In this post, we’ll look more closely at the signs, causes, and treatments of iron deficiency.

What are the signs of anemia caused by a lack of iron?


At first, iron-deficiency anemia symptoms can be subtle, and you might not even be aware of them. The majority of people don’t recognize they have moderate anemia until they get a normal blood test, according to the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

Among the signs of mild to severe iron deficiency anemia are:

  • overall weariness
  • weakness
  • light skin
  • breathing difficulty
  • dizziness
  • bizarre desires to consume foods with no nutritional value
  • the sensation of the legs crawling or tingling
  • tongue enlargement or discomfort
  • chilly fingers and feet
  • rapid or erratic heartbeat
  • broken nails
  • headaches

What are the causes of anemia due to iron deficiency?

The ASH claims that iron deficiency is the most typical cause of anemia. A person may become iron deficient for a variety of causes. These consist of:

Inadequate intake of iron

A deficit in your body might result from eating too little iron over a lengthy period. Foods high in iron include meat, eggs, and various green leafy vegetables. Pregnant women and young children may require even more iron-rich foods in their diets since iron is crucial during periods of rapid growth and development.

Pregnancies or menstrual blood loss

In women of childbearing age, iron deficiency anemia is frequently brought on by heavy monthly flow. The same is true with pregnancy, as your body needs more iron at this time to provide enough oxygen for the fetus.


Bleeding inside

Internal bleeding, which can result from specific medical disorders, can induce iron-deficiency anemia. Examples include colon cancer, stomach ulcers, and polyps in the colon or intestines. Regular use of other painkillers, such as aspirin, can potentially cause stomach bleeding.

Difficulty absorbing iron

Your body’s ability to absorb iron can also be hampered by certain gastrointestinal conditions or operations. Even if you consume an adequate amount of iron, intestinal conditions like celiac disease or gastric bypass surgery may reduce the amount of iron your body can absorb.


You might experience significant blood loss during your periods if you have endometriosis. Because it develops outside of the uterus, in the abdomen, or pelvic region, you might not even be aware that you have endometriosis.


Some illnesses, like celiac disease, which can make it challenging to absorb enough iron, are inherited from parents to children. The issue may potentially be exacerbated by genetic disorders or mutations. This includes the TMRPSS6 mutation. dependable source

Your body produces too much hepcidin as a result of this mutation. A hormone called hepcidin can prevent your intestines from absorbing iron.

Anemia may be exacerbated by other genetic disorders that result in unusual bleeding. Hemophilia and Von Willebrand disease are two examples.

What are the danger signs of anemia caused by a lack of iron?


In both men and women of any age and from any ethnic group, anemia is a frequent ailment. Iron deficiency anemia may be more common in some people than others, including:

  • older ladies who are pregnant
  • expecting mothers
  • those who eat poorly
  • persons who often give blood
  • babies and kids, especially those who were prematurely born or went through a growth spurt
  • vegetarians who don’t substitute another iron-rich item for meat
  • Teenagers who require more iron at times of rapid growth
  • individuals over 65
  • persons whose environments or water contain lead
  • marathon runners are high-performance and endurance athletes.

Consult a doctor if you think you may be at risk for iron-deficiency anemia to find out if blood work or dietary modifications could help.

Why are women more likely to have iron deficiency anemia?


Women are more likely to have iron-deficiency anemia due to uterine fibroids, endometriosis, heavy monthly flow, and pregnancy.

Heavy menstrual bleeding is when a woman bleeds more or for a longer period than usual. The average monthly period lasts 4 to 5 days, and 2 to 3 teaspoons of blood are lost throughout that time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source.

Typically, women who experience excessive menstrual bleeding hemorrhage for more than seven days and lose twice as much blood as usual.

A pelvic ultrasound can assist a doctor in finding fibroids as a possible cause of excessive bleeding during a woman’s menstruation. Uterine fibroids frequently do not manifest any symptoms, much like iron-deficiency anemia. They develop when uterine muscle cancers spread.

Although fibroids are typically not malignant, they can result in severe menstrual bleeding and iron deficiency anemia.

Iron deficiency anemia is detected in what ways?


Blood tests can be used by a clinician to identify anemia. These consist of:

Test for a full blood count (CBC)

A doctor would typically conduct a complete blood count (CBC) as their initial test. A CBC calculates the blood’s concentration of various cellular or cell-related substances, such as:

  • blood cells, red (RBCs)
  • uncolored blood cells (WBCs)
  • hemoglobin
  • hematocrit
  • platelets

A CBC offers blood information that is useful in identifying iron deficiency anemia. This data consists of:

  • the hematocrit level, which is the proportion of RBCs in blood volume.
  • the level of hemoglobin
  • how big are your RBCs are

A CBC test is frequently conducted as a standard element of a physical examination. It’s a reliable sign of someone’s general health. It might also be done regularly before surgery. Given that most patients with an iron shortage are unaware of it, this test helps identify this particular type of anemia.

Other tests

A CBC test can typically be used to confirm anemia. To assess the severity of your anemia and establish the best course of treatment, your doctor may request additional blood tests. Your blood may also be subjected to a microscope examination. These blood tests will yield data on things like:

  • the quantity of iron in your blood
  • your RBC’s color and size (RBCs that are iron deficient are pale.)
  • your amount of ferritin
  • Your overall ability to bind iron (TIBC)

A protein called ferritin aids in the body’s storage of iron. Low ferritin levels suggest insufficient iron storage. The amount of iron being transported by transferrin is determined by a TIBC test. Iron is transported via a protein called transferrin.

A few at-home test kits can measure TIBC, ferritin, and iron levels. Here, you may get a testing kit online from LetsGetChecked.

Internal bleeding tests

Additional testing might be required if your doctor thinks internal bleeding is the root of your anemia. A fecal occult test to check for blood in your stool is one test you might undergo. If you have blood in your stool, your intestines may be bleeding.

A small camera mounted on a flexible tube is used by your doctor during an endoscopy to observe the linings of your digestive tract. They are as follows:

An upper GI endoscopy, commonly known as an EGD test, enables a physician to look at the lining of the stomach, esophagus, and upper part of the small intestine.

A doctor can check the lining of the colon, the lower section of the large intestine, using a colonoscopy, also known as a lower GI endoscopy.

These examinations can aid in locating the causes of gastrointestinal bleeding.

What are the effects of iron-deficient anemia on health?


The majority of iron-deficiency anemia patients are mild and have no side effects. The condition is typically simple to fix. However, if untreated, anemia or iron shortage might result in other medical issues. These consist of:

Irregular or fast heartbeat

Your heart has to pump more blood when you’re anemic to make up for the inadequate oxygen levels. An erratic heartbeat may result from this. It can cause cardiac failure or an enlarged heart in extreme circumstances.

Obstetrical complications

A kid may be born prematurely or with a low birth weight in severe cases of iron insufficiency. To avoid this, the majority of pregnant women take iron supplements as part of their prenatal care.

Delayed growth in children and infants

Children and infants with significant iron deficiencies may develop and grow more slowly. Infections may also be more likely to affect them.

How is anemia caused by a lack of iron treated?

The severity of the issue and what initially led to it will determine how your iron deficiency anemia is managed. A shortage of iron in your diet or issues with your body’s ability to absorb the iron you do consume are the most common causes of this illness. The possibilities for treatment are listed below.

Supplemental iron

Iron supplements can help your body’s iron levels return to normal. Iron supplements work best absorbed by the body when taken on an empty stomach, if at all possible. You can take them with meals if they make your stomach uncomfortable. The supplements may need to be taken for several months. Supplementing with iron may result in dark stools or constipation.


The following foods can aid in treating or preventing an iron deficiency:

  • a red meat
  • leafy, dark green vegetables
  • dried goods
  • nuts
  • cereals enriched with iron

Vitamin C may also aid iron absorption in your body. A doctor may advise taking iron supplements with a source of vitamin C, such as a glass of orange juice or citrus fruit if you are taking iron supplements.

You might also need to think about the foods and beverages you consume, such as black tea, which might affect your iron levels or the way iron is absorbed.


Iron deficiency The most typical type of anemia is anemia. When your body doesn’t have enough iron, it happens. Lack of iron-rich diets, menstrual blood loss, and an inability to absorb iron are a few possible causes.

Consult a doctor if you believe you may be iron deficient. Through blood tests, anemia can be identified.

Avoid attempting to identify and manage iron deficiency anemia on your own. You might develop an excess of iron in your blood, which can lead to additional medical issues like constipation and even liver damage.

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