3 Main Causes Of Iron Deficiency Anemia
Have you ever had unusual cravings for substances such as ice or paper? It might be due to iron deficiency anemia (IDA). Women, infants and children, vegetarians, and people who routinely donate blood may have an increased risk of IDA. Read more to know about what iron deficiency anemia is and the three main causes of iron deficiency anemia.
What Is Iron Deficiency Anemia?
Iron deficiency anemia is a condition in which your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells. As the name indicates, IDA is caused by iron deficiency. Iron is vital for making the protein called hemoglobin which helps red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body tissues.
As a result, you will experience tiredness, shortness of breath, noticeable heartbeats, and pale skin in IDA. You may also hear ringing or buzzing noises inside the head, feel itchy, have headaches, sore tongue, hair loss, swallowing problems, spoon-shaped nails, desire to eat paper or ice, or painful sores in the corners of the mouth. IDA is the most common type of anemia among the many types of anemia.
3 Main Causes Of Iron Deficiency Anemia
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 40 percent of pregnant women worldwide are anemic. During pregnancy, the body needs to make more blood to supply oxygen to the growing baby. As the body's blood volume increases, you need more iron. You could develop iron deficiency anemia if you do not have sufficient iron stores or get enough iron during pregnancy. IDA can lead to low birth weight babies, postpartum depression, and premature birth (babies born too early before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Iron supplementation can prevent IDA and its complications in pregnancy.
The body loses more iron with blood loss than it can replace with food. Iron deficiency anemia from bleeding can happen in women with heavy menstrual bleeding and people with certain medical conditions. Women with heavy menstrual periods typically bleed for more than seven days and lose twice as much blood as normal. For men and postmenopausal women, bleeding in the intestines and stomach is the frequent cause of IDA. Bleeding can occur as a result of piles, stomach ulcers, inflammation of the food pipe or bowel, hiatal hernia, or taking NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin. Rarely, cancer of the stomach or bowel can be a source of bleeding.
Inadequate Intake Of Iron
Our body gets iron from foods we eat, and about 1 mg of iron is absorbed for every ten to twenty mg of iron ingested. If your diet contains too little iron, over time, you can have iron deficiency anemia. Vegans or vegetarians who do not replace meat with other iron-rich foods, people who regularly consume antacids, people with an eating disorder, and people on a weight loss diet are at an increased risk of having a diet low in iron. People who excessively consume caffeine are also at risk of not getting enough iron.
The iron-rich food sources are meat, beans, legumes, fish (sardines, mussels), eggs, peas, dried fruits (apricots & raisins), and spinach. Include vitamin C-rich foods to enhance iron absorption in foods from plant sources. Vitamin C is rich in citrus fruits, melon, berries, kiwi, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, peppers, and baked potatoes. Even if you get enough iron from food, if you have had an intestinal surgery such as gastric bypass or have medical conditions such as gastritis, or celiac disease, they may limit the amount of iron your body can absorb. The other causes of iron deficiency anemia are chronic kidney disease and inflammatory conditions.
The Bottom Line
Iron deficiency anemia in mild stages does not generally cause any complications. Though if not treated, IDA can lead to heart problems, delayed growth in infants and children, and problems during pregnancy. If you or your child have any signs and symptoms of IDA, reach out to your physician. Your doctor can prescribe supplements to restore normal iron levels if you have this anemia. In some severe cases, your healthcare professional may recommend an intravenous iron to treat the condition. Reduce the risk of IDA by consuming foods rich in iron and vitamin C.