Facts about Anaemia

Iron and Iron Deficiency

What is iron and why do we need it?

Iron is a mineral needed by our bodies. Iron is a part of all cells and does many things in our bodies. For example, iron (as part of the protein hemoglobin) carries oxygen from our lungs throughout our bodies. Having too little hemoglobin is called anemia. Iron also helps our muscles store and use oxygen.

Iron is a part of many enzymes and is used in many cell functions. Enzymes help our bodies digest foods and also help with many other important reactions that occur within our bodies. When our bodies don't have enough iron, many parts of our bodies are affected.

What is iron deficiency and why is it a concern?

Iron deficiency is a condition resulting from too little iron in the body. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia.

The terms anemia, iron deficiency, and iron deficiency anemia often are used interchangeably but equivalent. Iron deficiency ranges from depleted iron stores without functional or health impairment to iron deficiency with anemia, which affects the functioning of several organ systems.

Anemia is a concern because it can:

  •  Delay normal infant motor function (normal activity and movement) or mental function (normal thinking and processing skills).
  • Anemia during pregnancy can increase risk for small or early (preterm) babies. Small or early babies are more likely to have health problems or die in the first year of life than infants who are born full term and are not small.
  • Cause fatigue that impairs the ability to do physical work in adults.
  • Affect memory or other mental function in among adults and young persons.

What causes Anemia?

These causes fall into two main categories:

  1. Increased iron needs
    Many common conditions can cause people to need additional iron:
  • Because of their rapid growth, infants and toddlers need more iron than older children. Sometimes it can be hard for them to get enough iron from their normal diet.
  • Women who are pregnant have higher iron needs. To get enough, most women must take an iron supplement as recommended by their healthcare provider.
  • When people lose blood, they also lose iron. They need extra iron to replace what they have lost. Increased blood loss can occur with heavy menstrual periods, frequent blood donation, as well as with some stomach and intestinal conditions (food sensitivity, hookworms.)
  1. 2. Not enough iron taken into the body
    The amount of iron absorbed from the diet depends on many factors:
 

Decreased Iron Intake and Absorption

 
  • Lack of  heme iron sources in the diet (e.g., vegetarian diets)
  • Low absorption
  • Taking antacids beyond the recommended dose or medicine used to treat peptic ulcer disease and acid reflux can reduce the amount of iron absorbed in the stomach.

Who is most at risk?

  • Young children and pregnant women are at higher risk of iron deficiency because of rapid growth and higher iron needs.
  • Adolescent girls and women of childbearing age are at risk due to menstruation.
  • Among children, Anemia is seen most often between six months and three years of age due to rapid growth and inadequate intake of dietary iron.

Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

Someone with early stages of iron deficiency may have no signs or symptoms.

This is why it is important to screen for too little iron among high risk groups.

Signs of iron deficiency anemia include

  • Feeling tired and weak
  • Decreased work and school performance
  • Slow cognitive and social development during childhood
  • Difficulty maintaining body temperature
  • Decreased immune function, which increases susceptibility to infection
  • Glossitis (an inflamed tongue)

How is iron deficiency detected?

The most common tests for screening are

  • Hemoglobin test (a test that measures hemoglobin which is a protein in the blood that carries oxygen)
  • Hematocrit test (the percentage of red blood cells in your blood by volume
  • CBC- Complete Blood Count.
    Hemoglobin and hematocrit levels usually aren't decreased until the later stages of iron deficiency, i.e., anemia.

How is iron deficiency treated?

  • If you are found to have Low Hb, it is important to see your healthcare provider for treatment. Your treatment will depend on factors such as your age, health, and cause of iron deficiency.
  • If your doctor or health care provider thinks that you have iron deficiency she or he may prescribe iron supplements for you to take and then ask that you return after a period to have your hemoglobin or hematocrit tested.
  • If your doctor determines that the iron deficiency is due to a diet low in iron, you might be told to eat more iron-rich foods. Your health care provider may also prescribe an iron supplement for you.

Food/diet includes

·         fruits,

·         Dates ( Entedde)

·         Pumpkins

·         vegetables,

·         Wheat products,

·         fat free or nonfat milk

·         milk products,

·         meat-Poultry, Beef,Lamb,Goat,Camel

·         fish,

·         dry beans,

·         Boiled egg white,

·         Nuts eg G.nuts,Peanuts etc

 

 

It is important to be diagnosed by your healthcare provider because iron deficiency can have causes that aren't related to your diet.

Your healthcare provider's recommendations will be specific to your needs.

What can I do to prevent iron deficiency?

In general, you can eat a healthful diet that includes good sources of iron.

Adolescent girls and women of childbearing age

  • Eat iron-rich foods.
  • Eat foods that are vitamin C sources.
  • Eat lean red meats, poultry, and fish. The iron in these foods is easier for your body to absorb than the iron in plant foods.

Pregnant women

  • Eat iron-rich foods.
  • Eat foods that are vitamin C sources.
  • Eat lean red meats, poultry, and fish. The iron in these foods is easier for your body to absorb than the iron in plant foods.
  • Talk to your doctor about taking an iron supplement.

 

Iron Overload

Iron overload is the accumulation of excess iron in body tissues. Hemochromatosis is the disease resulting from significant iron overload. Hemochromatosis can have genetic and non-genetic causes. For more information     visit your Doctor if your blood hemoglobin level is higher than normal range value.

Kalson Medical Group