What Problems Can Be Caused By Iron Deficiency
However, left untreated, Iron-deficiency anemia Iron deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. can become severe and lead to health problems, including the following: Heart problems. Iron deficiency anemia may lead to a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Your heart must pump more blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen carried in your blood when youre anemic.
Iron Deficient: Your Doctor May Not Be Ordering This Best Test
A study indicates that doctors may not be ordering the right testand patients with chronic fatigue symptoms may therefore not be getting the right treatmentwhen it comes to iron deficiency.
The amount of ferritin in your blood is directly related to the amount of iron stored in your body. With a ferritin deficiency, even one within the normal range, the more likely it is that you do not have enough iron.
However, most doctors dont order this test. Instead, they may order only what is known as a CBC, which stands for complete blood count, to check a patients red blood cell and hemoglobin levels. If the CBC, which is a simpler, less expensive test, comes back normal, the doctor may send the patient away without ordering a ferritin test and with no explanation for the patients fatigue.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Anemia
Blood tests can identify an iron deficiency, but thats only part of the evaluation during an office visit. Those with mild symptoms may discover they are anemic during an annual checkup.
We always listen to what the patient is telling us, Dr. Brill says. A good history and physical are tools that no amount of technology can beat.
Lab tests then confirm the diagnosis. I would recommend annual lab screenings so we have a trail to look back on if there is a change, he says.
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Got Fatigue Increase Your Ferritin
Ferritin levels are important for everyone. Whether youre male or female, an avid exerciser or a couch potato. If your ferritin levels are too low, you may feel fatigued and run down. Fatigue can often be linked to inadequate iron in the blood. And since ferritin is a marker of long-term iron intake, it’s perfect for determining whether that worn-down feeling can be linked to your diet. Here’s how analyzing the ferritin levels in your blood can help increase your energy levels.
What is ferritin, and why is it important?
Ferritin is a type of protein that binds to iron. In fact, most of the iron that is stored in the body is bound to ferritin, which makes it a good marker for how much iron you have. Iron is an essential mineral that is a part of the protein hemoglobin, which is found in all the bodys red blood cells. Hemoglobin works to supply the muscles and other organs with enough oxygen, as well as to help the body to convert carbohydrates and fat into energy. Maintaining optimal levels of iron is important for athletes and non-athletes alike because iron plays the following important roles in the body:
- Maintains the health of hair and skin
- Fights infection and preserves the bodys immune system
- Helps to create energy
Why do low ferritin levels make you tired?
Tell me how much iron I need!
Certain people are at risk of iron deficiency
What to do to increase iron stores in your blood
Stages Of Iron Deficiency
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Suggestions For Parents Babies
Some suggestions to prevent iron deficiency in babies less than 12 months of age include:
- Have an iron-rich diet during pregnancy. Red meat is the best source of iron.
- Tests to check for anaemia should be conducted during pregnancy. If your doctor prescribes iron supplements, take them only according to instructions.
- Breastfeed your baby or choose iron-fortified infant formulas.
- Dont give your baby cows milk or other fluids that may displace iron-rich solid foods before 12 months of age.
- Dont delay the introduction of solid foods. Start giving your baby pureed foods when they are around 6 months of age. Fortified baby cereal made with iron-fortified infant formula or breastmilk is generally the first food to offer. This is because of its iron content, but also because its texture is easy to change. Introduce soft lumpy foods or mashed foods at around 7 months.
Roles Of Iron In The Body
Some of the many roles of iron in the body include:
- Oxygen transport red blood cells contain haemoglobin, a complex protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Haemoglobin is partly made from iron, and accounts for about two thirds of the bodys iron.
- Myoglobin a special protein that helps store oxygen in muscle cells. Myoglobin contains iron and is responsible for the red colour of muscle.
- Enzymes many enzymes throughout the body contain iron, including those involved in energy production. Enzymes are catalysts that drive many cell functions.
- Immune system proper functioning of the immune system relies, in part, on sufficient iron. The immune system helps us fight infection.
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Causes Of Iron Deficiency Anaemia
In pregnancy, iron deficiency anaemia is most often caused by a lack of iron in your diet.
Heavy periods and pregnancy are very common causes of iron deficiency anaemia. Heavy periods can be treated with medicine.
For men and for women whose periods have stopped, bleeding in the stomach and intestines is the most common cause of iron deficiency anaemia. This can be caused by:
- inflammation of the bowel or food pipe
- cancers of the bowel or stomach but this is less common
Any other conditions or actions that cause blood loss could also lead to iron deficiency anaemia.
Other Anemia Risk Factors
With iron-deficiency anemia, the basic cause is always the same: low iron in your blood. But your doctor will want to know why the problem exists. The questions youll likely be asked include:
Are you pregnant, or did you recently give birth? Your unborn baby needs hemoglobin too. The extra demand might have sapped your supply. Its also possible that you lost a lot of blood while giving birth.
Hows your diet? One of your best sources of iron comes from the foods you eat. If you havent been eating well, your iron levels could be dipping. Poor diet and heavy menstruation are the most common causes of iron-deficiency anemia in women, says Dr. Boling.
Do you have tummy troubles? Gastrointestinal problems, such as Crohns or celiac disease, may limit your ability to absorb nutrients from food. Other possible digestive causes: ulcers, polyps or colon cancer.
Have you recently donated blood? Thats a good thing. But if you do it too often, or if your blood donations are too close together, your iron levels could decline.
Are your menstrual periods heavy? Extra blood loss can deplete your iron supplies.
For men, fatigue may also be the result of low testosterone. Learn more about low T and its treatment here.
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Hair Loss Can Also Be A Sign Of Low Iron Stores
Whereas, low hemoglobin and thus low oxygen supply to hair cells can cause hair loss. Many dermatologists believe that low iron stores, even without anemia, can lead to hair loss. It is still not clear what degree of iron deficiency may contribute to hair loss.
The type of hair loss caused by iron deficiency can also vary. The most common is telogen effluvium increased shedding from all over the scalp. Other types of hair loss that occur due to low iron levels are alopecia areata and female pattern hair loss thinning of the hair on the top and front of the head .
Why does low iron stores cause hair loss?
Hair follicle cells are among the fastest dividing cells in the body. Dividing cells require higher levels of iron. It is therefore thought that low iron levels may impair hair follicle growth, thus affecting the hair growth cycle .
Furthermore, researchers in this field also believe that low iron levels lower the threshold for various types of hair loss. What this means is that if you have a family history and a genetic predisposition to developing female pattern hair loss or alopecia areata, it is possible that having low iron levels could lead to these hair loss cases .
Several research studies have evaluated the relationship between iron deficiency and hair loss. But the jury is still out on this.
Almost all of these studies focused on women, and some suggest that low iron stores, with or without anemia, may cause hair loss, while others have challenged this view .
What Are The Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency
Your body uses iron, a mineral, to make hemoglobin. This helps your blood carry oxygen throughout the body. If you arent getting enough iron, this can limit oxygen flow and anemia may develop.
If you show up at the doctors office looking pale, especially around the eyes, and complaining of constant chills and exhaustion, your doctor is likely to test for iron deficiency. Other symptoms include bruising, dry skin and a bloated feeling.
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Could A Vitamin Or Mineral Deficiency Be Behind Your Fatigue
The world moves at a hectic pace these days. If you feel like you’re constantly running on empty, you’re not alone. Many people say that they just don’t have the energy they need to accomplish all they need to. Sometimes the cause of fatigue is obvious for example, getting over the flu or falling short on sleep. Sometimes a vitamin deficiency is part of the problem. It might be worth asking your doctor to check a few vitamin levels, such as the three we’ve listed below.
For more ways to combat fatigue, buy Boosting Your Energy, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
Recognising Dangers And Symptoms That Come With Low Iron Is Factor In Addressing Issue
Tiredness and fatigue are the symptoms of menstruation women are most likely to accept as simply being a part of life
According to the World Health Organisation, it is estimated that a third of all women of reproductive age are anaemic, with 40 per cent of pregnant women also presenting with iron deficiency.
Without adequate iron, our body cannot produce enough haemoglobin in the red blood cells to enable them to carry oxygen around the body. As a result, iron deficiency can result in symptoms that affect the quality of life, such as fatigue, headaches, dizziness, reduced concentration, and shortness of breath. While some may show signs of iron deficiency, others will have no symptoms depending on the level of deficiency. These symptoms can significantly affect a persons daily life, with more significant risks for pregnant people.
The necessity of iron in pregnancy in order to support the developing foetus, the growing placenta, and the increased blood supply needed to sustain the pregnancy ensures a requirement for greater access to regular screening during and after pregnancy.
Despite being an easily treatable condition, it is not unusual for women to accept and live with the symptoms of low iron for years before seeking treatment
The average woman will spend an equivalent of almost ten years of her life menstruating, which is a significant time spent feeling less than her best
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Why Do I Feel Sick After Taking Iron Supplements
If you are taking iron, you should consume it on an empty stomach. Some people, however, may experience stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea when taking iron supplements. This problem can be avoided by taking iron with a small amount of food. It is not recommended to take milk, calcium, or antacids at the same time as iron supplements.
Treatment For Iron Deficiency
Treatment for iron deficiency depends on your iron status, and the underlying cause:
- If you have iron depletion , your doctor will give you information about including iron-rich foods in your diet. You will have another blood test in around 6 months to check that your iron level has improved.
- If you have iron deficiency , your doctor will give you dietary advice and closely monitor your diet. They will encourage you to have iron-rich foods and discourage you from having foods and drinks that can interfere with iron absorption with meals. They will regularly review your iron status and may prescribe supplements.
- If you have iron deficiency anaemia , your doctor will prescribe iron supplements. It may take 6 months to one year for your body to restock its iron stores. Your iron levels will be regularly reviewed with blood tests.
- If you have an underlying problem that is causing your iron deficiency, it is very important that the cause is investigated. If it is a medical cause, it is important that it be treated appropriately.
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Headache Dizziness Or Lightheadedness
There are lots of possible causes for headaches, but frequent, recurring headaches and dizziness could be a sign of iron deficiency. This symptom seems to be less common than others and will often be experienced with lightheadedness or dizziness.
An iron-deficient body will prioritize getting oxygen to your brain before it worries about other tissues. However, even then, your head will still get less than it ideally should, in response, the brains arteries can swell, causing headaches.
Iron Deficiency And Fatigue
The most common cause of fatigue in pre-menopausal women is chronic iron deficiency and it is greatly underestimated as a cause of severe disabling fatigue. Many women put up with this for years because they find that oral iron supplements are not strong enough or that they cause digestive upsets.
The mineral iron would have to be the most essential mineral for human and animal life. Three quarters of the bodys total iron content is found inside the red blood cells and is part of a protein that enables red cells to carry life giving oxygen to every cell in our body.
Ten to twenty percent of iron is stored in a protein called ferritin. The rest, which is not very much , is transported around the body on another protein called transferrin and a small amount is free in the blood.
We can do tests to measure all these different forms of iron with one simple blood test and this enables us to see if you have too little iron in your body or too much iron in your body or just the right amount!
Do not put up with chronic iron deficiency, as it will impact your whole health adversely.
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Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the body lacks the right amount of iron to produce enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the bodys tissues. While there are different types of anemia, IDA is the most common worldwide, affecting over 1.2 billion people.
People with IDA that is mild or moderate may not experience symptoms. More severe cases of iron deficiency will cause chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, or chest pain.
IDA needs to be addressed and treated. Left untreated, it can lead to depression, heart problems, increased infection risk, developmental delays in children, and pregnancy complications.
Keep reading to learn about the symptoms and complications of IDA and when to see a doctor.
Dry And Damaged Hair And Skin
Dry and damaged skin and hair can be signs of iron deficiency .
Iron deficiency lowers the level of hemoglobin in the blood, which may reduce the amount of oxygen available to cells that cause hair growth .
When skin and hair are deprived of oxygen, they can become dry and weak.
Iron deficiency is also associated with hair loss, and some research suggests it could be a cause (
Restless legs syndrome is a strong urge to move your legs while theyre at rest. It can also cause unpleasant and strange crawling or itchy sensations in your feet and legs.
Its usually worse at night, meaning that you may find it difficult to sleep.
The causes of restless legs syndrome are not fully understood.
However, around 25% of people with iron deficiency anemia have restless legs syndrome. The prevalence of restless legs syndrome is nine times higher in people with iron deficiency compared to the general population .
People with iron deficiency anemia have a higher chance of experiencing restless legs syndrome, which is a strong urge to move the legs when at rest.
The main aim of treatment is to restore hemoglobin levels to normal and replenish iron stores.
Your doctor will develop a treatment plan that best meets your healthcare needs.
Before changing your diet or deciding on any supplements, talk with your doctor.
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