Iron Deficiency Anemia

Home Family Medicine Clinic Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron deficiency is a form of anemia – a vitamin deficiency – characterized by the inadequacy of healthy red blood cells (unhealthy erythrocytes) in the body. As you may know, red blood cells transport oxygen to the body tissues.

As evident by the name, iron deficiency anemia happens when your body lacks sufficient iron. This lack of iron leads to the body’s inability to produce enough hemoglobin, a protein that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen. The reduced amount of blood oxygen causes the affected person to experience problems like tiredness and shortness of breath.

While iron supplements may help you reduce iron deficiency, the best way to address this issue is to get yourself medically examined and then follow treatment measures suggested by a skilled practitioner.

What Are The 3 Main Causes of Anemia?

Anemia is mainly caused by blood loss, low production of red blood cells, and the destruction of red blood cells. Let’s discuss each of these factors briefly.

  1. Blood loss: The leading cause of anemia is blood loss, which is more common among women with hemorrhoids or heavy menstrual flow. Other factors that may cause this problem include internal bleeding disorders or ulcers.
  2. Low production of red blood cells: Iron deficiency is the most common reason for low red blood cell production. Other deficiencies leading to this problem include protein, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin C deficiency. Some chronic diseases may also interfere with red blood cell production. These illnesses include diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and kidney diseases.
  3. Destruction of red blood cells: The average lifespan of red blood cells is four months. Also, the production of red blood cells is a continuous process. But sometimes, the body starts destroying red blood cells, causing a decline in the levels of these cells. Medical treatments like chemotherapy can also destroy red blood cells and hinder the production of new ones.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

The onset of iron deficiency may go asymptomatic. However, the signs and symptoms may appear and intensify as the anemia worsens.

The signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia may include:

  • Weakness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, or fast heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness or headache
  • Pale skin
  • Inflammation on the tongue
  • Cold feet and hands
  • Cravings for items with little to no nutritional value, such as ice, starch, or even dirt
  • Poor appetite
  • Brittle nails

Diagnosis of Iron Deficiency

Your doctor may examine the following to check if you have iron deficiency:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Hemoglobin levels
  • Ferritin levels
  • Blood iron levels

Your doctor may also perform the following tests to check if you have iron deficiency:

  • Fecal occult test
  • Colonoscopy
  • Pelvic ultrasound
  • Endoscopy

Iron Deficiency Treatment

In most cases, doctors recommend iron supplements to treat iron-deficiency anemia. They may treat the underlying cause of this deficiency if those supplements do not work.

Iron Supplements

Although iron supplements are primarily available over the counter, it is generally advised to get a recommendation from your physician before taking them. Your doctor will give you instructions on the supplement type and dosage. Iron supplements for adults are available in tablets, while those for children and infants come in liquid form.

For better iron absorption in your body, your doctor may advise you to:

  • Take supplements before meals: Taking iron supplements after meals can upset your stomach.
  • Avoid taking antacids and iron supplements together: Medications to relieve heartburn can interfere with iron absorption. Your doctor may recommend taking iron supplements a couple of hours before or four hours after taking antacids.
  • Take iron supplements with vitamin C tablets: Vitamin C is known to support iron absorption. You can take your iron supplement with vitamin C tablets or orange juice.

Some iron supplements may cause constipation, so speak to your doctor to avoid this complication. A general side effect of iron supplements is black stools, which is not a cause of concern.

Remember, you must be persistent with your supplementation to correct your iron deficiency. A course of supplementation may last several months or more, depending on the pace at which your iron reserves are replenished. Your doctor may recommend regular blood screening to measure the treatment progress.

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Treating the Underlying Reasons For Iron Deficiency

If iron supplementation doesn’t increase iron levels, there is a possibility that your iron deficiency is due to bleeding or the body’s lack of ability to absorb iron. In such a scenario, your doctor will want to investigate and treat this problem through prescription medications or surgery.

Depending on what caused your iron deficiency, the treatment options may include:

  • Medications like oral contraceptives to control heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Antibiotics to treat ulcers
  • Surgery to remove the tumor, fibroid, or polyp responsible for bleeding and subsequent iron deficiency

In severe cases of iron deficiency anemia, the doctor may inject iron medications intravenously into your body. Sometimes, you might need a blood transfusion to replenish iron or hemoglobin levels.

How Much Does Anemia Treatment Cost?

The cost of iron deficiency anemia treatment depends entirely on the treatment option. You can have a detailed insight into iron deficiency treatment costs during the initial consultation at Euromed Clinic Dubai.

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Iron Deficiency Treatment FAQs

What is the best way to treat iron deficiency?

The best way to treat iron deficiency is not to let this deficiency develop in the first place. Your daily food intake should include items that help maintain iron levels in your body. Such foods include seafood, poultry, red meat, dark leafy green vegetables, dried fruits, and iron-fortified cereals.

How long does it take to correct iron deficiency?

The time required to get iron levels back up depends on the treatment. For instance, supplementation helps raise iron levels in three to six months. And treatments based on prescription medications and surgery will replenish iron levels in less time. Generally, intravenous iron medication is quicker than oral medications to correct iron deficiency.

Book an Appointment

Iron deficiency can affect your quality of life by making you more tired and lethargic. But the good news is we have several options to treat your problem at Euromed Clinic Dubai. For more information or to book a consultation, fill out the online form below.


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    Dr. Hoda Makkawi

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    Dr. Hoda Makkawi has more than 20 years of experience in anti-aging, family, and integrative medicine. She is a DHA-licensed consultant who uses the most advanced treatment techniques, like bio-identical hormone treatments, to help her patients.

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