Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia is a common, easily treated condition that occurs if you don’t have enough iron in your body. Low iron levels usually are due to blood loss, poor diet, or an inability to absorb enough iron from food.

Iron-deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia. The term “anemia” usually refers to a condition in which your blood has a lower than normal number of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen and remove carbon dioxide (a waste product) from your body.

Iron-deficiency anemia usually develops over time if your body doesn’t have enough iron to build healthy red blood cells. Without enough iron, your body starts using the iron it has stored. Soon, the stored iron gets used up.

After the stored iron is gone, your body makes fewer red blood cells. The red blood cells it does make have less hemoglobin than normal.

Symptoms:

  • Cold hands and feet as well as brittle nails
  • Swelling or soreness of the tongue and cracks in the sides of the mouth
  • An enlarged spleen
  • Frequent infections

People who have iron-deficiency anemia may have an unusual craving for nonfood items, such as ice, dirt, paint, or starch. This craving is called pica.

Some people who have iron-deficiency anemia develop restless legs syndrome (RLS). RLS is a disorder that causes a strong urge to move the legs. This urge to move often occurs with strange and unpleasant feelings in the legs. People who have RLS often have a hard time sleeping.

Treatment:

Treatment for iron-deficiency anemia will depend on its cause and severity. Treatments may include dietary changes and supplements, medicines, and surgery.

Severe iron-deficiency anemia may require a blood transfusion, iron injections, or intravenous (IV) iron therapy. Treatment may need to be done in a hospital.

The goals of treating iron-deficiency anemia are to treat underlying cause and restore normal levels of red blood cells, hemoglobin, and iron.

For More Information visit NHLBI – IDA.