Iron Deficiency Anemia
The blood circulates throughout the body performs a number of essential functions. It delivers oxygen, removes carbon dioxide and transports nutrients essential for sustaining life. In addition, by serving as a vehicle for messengers that act at a distance such as hormones, blood helps the various parts of the body communicate with each other. These are the blood cells, working with the liquid part of blood (plasma) that perform these tasks. Most of the cells that make up blood are red blood cells (erythrocytes). The blood also contains white blood cells (leukocytes) that defend the body against foreign bodies – including bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Anemia occurs when blood does not contain enough hemoglobin or red blood cells are not numerous enough. There are several types of anemia, anemia blood disorder are the most common. They are usually due to iron deficiency. In Canada, approximately 20% of women, 50% of pregnant women and 3% of men are iron deficient. Overall, anemia affects two out of 1000.
Some babies may need extra iron, especially if they are bottle-fed with cow’s milk. It is for this reason that doctors often prescribe iron supplements for infants and the diet of infants is fortified with iron. In this case, only iron-fortified formulas should be used.
Iron deficiency occurs when the body needs more iron than it receives. The body needs iron to make hemoglobin. With the exception of children suffering from malnutrition, iron deficiency is almost always caused by chronic blood loss, that is to say, long-term, due to factors such as heavy menstrual bleeding, peptic duodenal one of ASA (acetylsalicylic acid) long-term, colon cancer, cancer of the uterus and a malignant tumor. It can also occur if the person’s diet does not include enough foods containing iron or iron absorption is poor (when a person has undergone gastric bypass surgery, for example).
This form of anemia occurs quite often in women of childbearing age because women have bleeding during menstruation. Pregnant women who do not take iron supplements may have iron deficiency anemia because their iron stores are used as a source of hemoglobin by the developing baby.
Infants, children and adolescents who have growth spurts may have iron deficiency anemia. Lead poisoning can also cause this disorder in children. Among people over 50 years, injury or impairment of the gastrointestinal tract, especially the colon, can lead to chronic blood loss and anemia.
The symptoms of anemia occur gradually and may go unnoticed.
The main symptom is fatigue. However, many people find how tired they were only after receiving treatment.
In addition to fatigue and lack of energy, there may be pallor of the skin, gums, nail beds and the inner eyelids. Eventually, if the anemia is severe enough, the heart rate can be accelerated and become noticeable.
Other symptoms of iron deficiency anemia may include:
a craving to eat unusual substances
shortness of breath
glossitis (sore tongue)
hypotension (especially when the person goes from lying or sitting to standing)
loss of appetite (especially in children)
Untreated iron deficiency anemia may become severe enough to interfere with daily life. Infants with anemia that does not heal may have stunted growth and mental retardation (learning difficulties). Fortunately, the administration of iron supplements can quickly correct the effects of anemia. However, it is still important to identify the cause, because it may be the first sign of a serious disorder.
This type of anemia usually causes no complications, but it can occur again, so regular medical monitoring is necessary. Children with this type of anemia are more likely to get infections.