General Practice 2022

Iron deficiency anemia: what é, symptoms and treatment

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Iron deficiency anemia: what é, symptoms and treatment
Iron deficiency anemia: what é, symptoms and treatment

Iron deficiency anemia is a type of anemia that occurs due to a lack of iron in the body, which decreases the amount of hemoglobin and, consequently, red blood cells, which are the blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen to all tissues. of the body. Thus, there are symptoms such as weakness, discouragement, easy tiredness, pale skin and feeling faint, for example.

Treatment for iron deficiency anemia consists of iron supplementation for approximately 4 months and a diet rich in foods that contain iron, such as black beans, meat and spinach, for example.

This disease is serious and can be life-threatening when hemoglobin levels are below 11 g/dL for women and 12 g/dL for men. This is potentially serious because it can prevent you from performing any necessary surgery.

Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia

Initially, iron deficiency anemia has subtle symptoms that are not always perceived by the person, but as the lack of iron in the blood worsens, the symptoms become more apparent and frequent, namely:

  • Tiredness;
  • Generalized weakness;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Difficulty exercising;
  • Dizziness;
  • Feeling dizzy or faint;
  • Pale skin and mucous membranes of the eyes;
  • Difficulty concentrating;
  • Memory lapses;
  • Headache;
  • Weak and brittle nails;
  • Dry skin;
  • Pain in legs;
  • Swelling in the ankles;
  • Hair loss;
  • Lack of appetite.

Iron deficiency anemia is more likely to occur in women and children, people with vegetarian habits or people who donate blood frequently.

Symptom Test

To know your risk of being anemic, select the symptoms you may be experiencing in the following symptom test:

  1. 1.Lack of energy and excessive tiredness Yes No
  2. 2.Pale skin Yes No
  3. 3.Lack of disposition and low productivity Yes No
  4. 4.Constant headache Yes No
  5. 5.Easy irritability Yes No
  6. 6.Inexplicable urge to eat something strange like brick or clay Yes No
  7. 7.Memory loss or difficulty concentrating Yes No


Make an appointment with a specialist

Main causes

The main cause of iron deficiency anemia is a diet low in iron, which can happen even in people who are within the ideal weight or overweight. In addition, a lack of iron can happen due to the body's difficulty in absorbing iron, which is what happens in the case of celiac disease or when a part of the intestine has been removed from the body.

The decrease in the amount of circulating iron in the body can also be due to continuous and prolonged blood loss within the digestive system, which is a common cause in case of hernias or stomach ulcers, for example. However, heavy menstruation or spotting that persists for more than 8 days can also cause iron deficiency.

During pregnancy, it is normal for a woman to have low concentrations of iron in the blood, because the woman's body prioritizes the development of the baby, which means that the stores and the iron present are directed to the development of the baby. fetus.

How the diagnosis is made

The diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia is made through the blood count, in which the amount of hemoglobin and the values ​​of RDW, VCM and HCM are observed, which are indices present in the blood count, in addition to the dosage of serum iron, ferritin, transferrin and transferrin saturation.

The main parameter used to confirm anemia is hemoglobin, which in these cases is:

  • Less than 13.5 g/dL for newborns;
  • Less than 11 g/dL for babies up to 1 year and pregnant women;
  • Less than 11.5 g/dL for children;
  • Less than 12 g/dL for adult females;
  • Less than 13 g/dL for adult males.

In relation to iron-related parameters, iron deficiency anemia is perceived by a decrease in serum iron and ferritin and an increase in transferrin and transferrin saturation.

Treatment for iron deficiency anemia

Treatment of iron deficiency anemia should be done according to its cause and usually includes the use of 60 mg of iron supplement per day, in addition to the consumption of foods rich in iron such as lentils, parsley, beans and meats red, for example. Here's how to make a diet rich in iron.

Eating foods rich in vitamin C enhances iron absorption. On the other hand, there are some foods that impair the absorption of iron, such as the tannins and caffeine found in coffee and the oxalate present in chocolate. Thus, the best dessert for those with anemia is an orange, and the worst are coffee and chocolate.

Treatment must be prescribed by a doctor and diet can be guided by a nutritionist. It is important to repeat the exams 3 months after starting treatment, because excess iron can harm the liver.

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