Exhausted without exertion? Feeling loss of energy, dizzy and low concentration?? Gradually getting fair rather paler in complexion? Experiencing noticeable hair loss and may sometimes be shortness of breath? Maybe you are under the impression that it’s all because of your routine right?? Till you diagnose, who knows what the actual reason behind this?
Anticipating something dreadful..?? Don’t worry, it’s not so serious. But still, have some consideration towards yourself and don’t let these simple symptoms become dreadful. Okay okay.I got it .you are confused for what I am talking about. Hmm, these are nothing but the symptoms of the most common disorder in young individuals, most importantly in females i.e. Anemia. I know you have many more questions buzzing your mind. Not a problem just be patient enough to know the answers and educate yourselves
What is Anemia?
Anemia is a very common disorder related to blood and its components. It is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells and thereby less amount of hemoglobin. So, first of all, it’s very important to know about hemoglobin. It is a complex compound, present in red blood cells responsible for the transport of oxygen in the human body. Therefore, when the amount of hemoglobin is less than the normal, your body mainly “brain” along with other organs are short of oxygen, which is the key for the energy source. Hemoglobin is formed by two components among which haem means iron and globin means protein. So, iron deficiency also leads to anemia.
There are different types of anemia like iron deficiency anemia, pernicious anemia, macrocytic anaemia, sickle cell anaemia, etc. Each of them might have a different cause but, eventually the effect is almost the same, .i.e. abnormality in oxygen transport due to hemoglobin.
Now let us know more about the most common one i.e. iron deficiency anemia.
Firstly, What Causes Iron Deficiency Anemia?
The number of red blood cells can drop mainly because of the following reasons, the major causes of iron deficiency:
- A reduction in the number of red blood cells being produced
- The increase in the loss of red blood cells.
- Inefficiency to absorb enough iron from the diet.
- When you are taking iron deficient diet.
Life span of RBC’s is 120 days, so for every three months they should be replenished. When there is iron deficiency, it’s hard to replenish healthy RBC’s, this way it leads to anaemic condition.
- Most of the children suffer from anaemia due to iron deficiency diet.
- In adults, the most common cause is losing blood faster than the body can replace it.
- Iron deficiency anaemia is more prominent in vegans and vegetarians since the main source of iron is red meat. But there are iron deficiency supplements for iron deficiency treatment.
- Premature babies also suffer from anaemic conditions since iron storage usually will not be completed until the final stage of pregnancy.
- Individuals who are in a growing stage and woman under pregnancy are also prone to this since high levels of iron are required for faster cell divisions.
- Loss of blood through heavy menstruation will deplete iron stores. These are the causes of low iron in blood.
- Diseases of the small intestine such as gluten intolerance (coeliac disease), Crohn’s disease (inflammation of the intestine), gastric bypass surgery and frequent intake of antacids containing calcium, lowers iron absorption.
- Sometimes due to small ruptures in the intestine because of polyps (small growths) or cancers and due to ulcers in the stomach and small intestine also cause iron deficiency anaemia. These ruptures may be so slight that they will remain undetected.
- Use of aspirin, ibuprofen, or arthritis medicines for a long time also causes gastrointestinal bleeding and thereby irons deficiency. Avoiding these is one of the treatments for iron-deficiency anemia.
Though you know the causes of iron deficiency anemia, I guess you still have to know how to identify that you are anaemic
Symptoms for Iron Deficiency Anemia
Now, let us talk about the various signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. Most of the time, symptoms are mild at first and develop slowly. Initial symptoms may include:
- Tiredness and palpitations (awareness of the heartbeat).
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness is also common.
- Feeling grumpy
- Problems concentrating or thinking
As the anaemia gets severe and in case of long-term iron deficiency symptoms may include:
- Burning sensation in the tongue
- Dryness in the mouth and throat
- Sores at the corners of the mouth
- Altered sense of touch
- Brittle, spoon-shaped nails with vertical stripes and a tendency to fray
- Brittle hair
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pale skin colour
- Shortness of breath
- Angina (chest pain)
- Headache and leg pains
Symptoms of the conditions that cause Iron Deficiency Anaemia include:
- Dark, tar-coloured stools or blood
- Heavy menstrual bleeding (women)
- Pain in the upper belly (from ulcers)
- Weight loss (in people with cancer)
Treatment for Iron Deficiency Anemia
How does your doctor do the diagnosis? Physician will diagnose the iron deficiency anaemia by medical history, physical examination, and then some diagnostic tests and procedures will confirm the deficiency. General Tests and Procedures:
Complete Blood Count
- This is the initial diagnosis test where the total number of cells present in the blood are analysed.
- Mainly it measures the level of haemoglobin and gives haematocrit (measure of space taken by red blood cells in your blood).
- Lower haemoglobin and haematocrit indicates anemic
If the above test indicates a deficiency then following another test can be done for further diagnosis:
measure of primitive RBC’s called reticulocytes.
A blood sample visualised under microscope shows the intensity of red colour in RBC. Pale coloured cells indicate iron deficiency.
Erythrocyte protoporphyrin test
This test may also be rarely recommended since this is the protein that acts as a building block in the haemoglobin formation.
Tests to measure Iron levels in the blood
Serum Iron: This test measures the amount of iron in your blood. The level of iron in your blood may be normal even if the total amount of iron in your body is low. For this reason, other iron tests also are done.
Serum ferritin: Ferritin is a protein that helps your body to store iron. This test helps to measure the amount of stored iron being used.
Transferrin level: It is a carrier protein for iron in the blood. This test helps in the measurement of the free transferrin (without iron) in the blood that in turn indicates the level of deficiency.
Tests for Gastro Intestinal Blood Loss:
- Faecal occult blood test
- Upper endoscopy
For small children even a test for the level of lead in blood is done since, presence of lead makes the production of haemoglobin difficult. Sometimes, iron deficiency symptoms in women are very evident.
Well, you might be desirous knowing as to how to avoid Iron Deficiency Anemia.
If you are already deficient and got diagnosed then based on the amount of the deficiency, you’ll be instructed to take dietary supplements.
In some early cases it can be rectified with the diet you take and in some other cases external supplements containing iron, folic acid, mecobalamin are required.
When it is required to replenish iron immediately in one’s body, supplements are given through i.m (intramuscular) or I.v. (intravenous injection.)
In the case of pregnant and breastfeeding woman, iron supplements are essential since their diet can’t cater their iron requirement.
Iron Rich Diet:
In general Iron rich diet includes:
- Chicken, turkey and beef
- Dried lentils, peas, and beans
- Meats (liver is the highest source)
- Peanut butter
- Whole-grain bread
- Even diet rich in vitamin C also helps in good absorption of iron.
- Raisins, prunes, and apricots
- Spinach, kale, and other greens
Hope you got the information required; now it’s time for you to act faster and formulate an iron-rich diet for your healthy living.
Iron for an iron body!
For any queries or suggestions, please write in the comments section below.
Also do share this valuable information with your family and friends, especially with those who are suffering from Iron Deficiency Anemia.