Iron Deficiency Anemia: the Key Points


Anemia – as a particular condition characterized by a lack of healthy red blood cells responsible for the provision of oxygen to tissues in the body.

Iron deficiency anemia is caused by a lack of the mineral iron that produces hemoglobin, the blood molecule that carries oxygen (American Society of Hematology, n.d.).

As a result, oxygen supply is limited.


  • Unexplained general fatigue and weakness;
  • Pale and even yellow “sallow” skin;
  • Shortness of breath, headache, or chest pain;
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat;
  • Dizziness or “whooshing” and pounding in the ears;
  • Picophagia;
  • Crawling or tingling feeling in the limbs;
  • Tongue soreness or swelling;
  • Hair loss and brittle nails;
  • Cold feet and hands (American Society of Hematology, n.d.).

Causes of Anemia

  1. Decreased absorption or intake of iron
  2. Increased demand of iron

Decreased Absorption or Intake of Iron

Inappropriate Diet (a lack of heme iron, folate or zinc, and vitamins B12 and C; consumption of tea, chocolate, eggs, coffee, dairy products, and fiber).

Medicine Administration (proton pump inhibitors, antacids, and calcium supplements).

Certain Diseases and Conditions (hormone imbalances, autoimmune diseases, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory conditions, celiac disease, and a lack of stomach acid).

Increased Demand of Iron

  • Pregnancy;
  • Heavy bleeding during menstruation or childbirth in women;
  • Blood losses;
  • Excessive and frequent blood donation;
  • Digestive tract disease;
  • Fibroids;
  • Accidents;
  • Surgeries;
  • Particular medications, such as aspirin;.
  • Poisoning from toxic chemicals, lead, or alcohol abuse (Iron Disorders Institute, n.d.).

Population Groups at Risk

  1. Pregnant women, women in the period of breastfeeding, and women who have recently given birth (American Society of Hematology, n.d.).
  2. Women with heavy menstrual periods.
  3. People with serious physical trauma after major surgery.
  4. Patients with gastrointestinal diseases, inflammatory bowel diseases, and peptic ulcer disease.
  5. People after bariatric procedures, especially gastric bypass operations (American Society of Hematology, n.d.).
  6. Vegetarians.
  7. Children with a high consumption of cow’s milk per day.

Treatment of Anemia


In order to detect iron deficiency, the most common tests used are hemoglobin, serum ferritin and serum iron and iron-binding capacity (IBC, UIBC or TIBC) (Iron Disorders Institute, n.d.,).

Additional tests may include zinc protoporphyrin, a complete blood count, free erythrocyte protoporphyrin, and reticulocyte hemoglobin content (CHr).

Treatment and Prevention

  • Healthy diet with iron-rich foods
  • Administration of medicinal and intravenous iron
  • Blood transfusion


Iron deficiency anemia – a particular condition characterized by a lack of the mineral iron responsible for the production of hemoglobin that provides oxygen to tissues in the body.

When the amount of iron that participates in the formation of hemoglobin in erythrocytes is insufficient the healthy development of cells is negatively affected due to a lack of tissue oxygenation.

Healthy well-balanced diet that implies the consumption of iron-rich foods remains the most efficient preventative measure.


American Society of Hematology. (n.d.). Iron-deficiency anemia. Web.

Armstrong, G. R., & Summerlee, A. J. S. (2014). The etiology, treatment and effective prevention of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in women and young children worldwide: A review. Journal of Women’s Health Care, 4(1), 1-5. Web.

Iron Disorders Institute. (n.d.). Understanding iron deficiency anemia. Web.

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