IRON DEFICIENCY ANAEMIA
WHAT IS ANAEMIA?
Iron deficiency anaemia is a condition where a lack of iron in the body leads to a reduction in the number of red blood cells. Iron is used to produce red blood cells, which help store and carry oxygen in the blood. If you have fewer red blood cells than is normal, your organs and tissues will not get as much oxygen as they usually would. There are several different types of anaemia and each one has a different cause, although iron deficiency anaemia is the most common type. Other forms of anaemia can be caused by a lack of vitamin B12 or folate in the body.
SYMPTOMS OF IRON DEFICIENCY ANAEMIA
The main symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia include: · tiredness and lethargy (lack of energy) · shortness of breath · heart palpitations (noticeable heartbeats) · a pale complexión If you have any of these symptoms, it is advisable to visit your Doctor asap and he can diagnose iron deficiency anaemia through a simple blood test.
WHAT CAUSES IRON DEFICIENCY ANAEMIA?
There are many things that can lead to a lack of iron in the body. In men and post-menopausal women, the most common cause is bleeding in the stomach and intestines. This can be caused by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), a stomach ulcer, stomach cancer or bowel cancer. In women of reproductive age, the most common causes of iron deficiency anaemia are heavy periods and pregnancy (as your body needs extra iron for your baby). Unless you’re pregnant, it’s rare for iron deficiency anaemia to be caused just by a lack of iron in your diet. However, if you do lack dietary iron, it may mean you’re more likely to develop anaemia than if you have one of the problems mentioned above.
HOW IRON DEFICIENCY ANAEMIA IS TREATED?
Treatment for iron deficiency anaemia involves taking iron supplements to boost the low levels of iron in your body. This is usually effective and the condition rarely causes long-term problems. You will need to be monitored every few months to check the treatment is working and that your iron levels have returned to normal. You may also be advised to increase the amount of iron in your diet.
Good sources of iron include:
- dark-green leafy vegetables, such as watercress and curly kale
- iron-fortified cereals or bread
- brown rice
- pulses and beans
- nuts and seeds
- meat, fish and tofu
- dried fruit, such as dried apricots, prunes and raisins