Causative & risk factors
Iron deficiency anemia is caused due to deficient iron intake, defects in iron absorption or excessive iron loss from the body.
Dietary deficiency of iron is usually observed in young children and pregnant women. Defective absorption of iron can occur as a result of celiac disease or gastric/intestinal surgery. Excessive loss of iron can occur as a result of internal bleeding from ulcers or hemorrhoids or due to heavy menstrual bleeding. Chronic renal failure or chronic kidney disease can also lead to iron deficiency anemia.
The symptoms will start manifesting as anemia becomes severe. An anemic patient starts feeling breathless and fatigued even with little exertion. He may be confused or forgetful and experience episodes of dizziness. Skin looks pale, muscle strength is reduced, movements may become uncoordinated and the patient starts losing weight.
A complete blood count is performed along with examination of a peripheral smear. The red blood cells appear large (microcytic) and less colored (hypochromic). The serum ferritin levels are tested.
A complete gastro-intestinal evaluation must be performed to locate any internal bleeding.
The patient is advised to consume iron rich foodstuffs regularly. Oral supplements of iron are advised for a specified period.
In severe cases, intravenous iron or blood transfusions are given.
A study found that in spite of providing vitamin supplementation, many patients who have undergone laparoscopic bypass surgery eventually develop iron or vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.