Home > Health A – Z > Iron-Deficiency Anemia

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.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

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.

Overview

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.

Anemia also can occur if your red blood cells don't contain enough hemoglobin (HEE-muh-glow-bin). Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the 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... Read more about Iron-Deficiency Anemia

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Treatment for women with postpartum iron deficiency anaemia

Erythropoietin, a hormone, may help to treat women who develop anaemia after giving birth, but there may be rare adverse events.

Routine Iron Supplementation and Screening for Iron Deficiency Anemia in Children Ages 6 to 24 Months: A Systematic Review to Update the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation [Internet]

In 2006, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concluded that the evidence was insufficient to recommend for or against routine screening and supplementation for asymptomatic children ages 6 to 12 months at average risk for iron deficiency anemia but recommended routine iron supplementation for those at increased risk.

Routine Iron Supplementation and Screening for Iron Deficiency Anemia in Pregnant Women: A Systematic Review to Update the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation [Internet]

In 2006, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended routine screening for iron deficiency anemia in asymptomatic, pregnant women but found insufficient evidence to recommend for or against routine iron supplementation for nonanemic pregnant women.

See all (122)

Summaries for consumers

Treatment for women with postpartum iron deficiency anaemia

Erythropoietin, a hormone, may help to treat women who develop anaemia after giving birth, but there may be rare adverse events.

Treatments for anaemia in pregnancy thought to be due to iron deficiency

When the blood has insufficient red cells, or the red cells carry insufficient haemoglobin to deliver adequate oxygen to the tissues, this is called anaemia. There is normally a reduction in the haemoglobin concentrations in the mother's blood during pregnancy, and this allows a better blood flow around the womb (uterus) and to the baby. This is sometime called physiological anaemia and needs no treatment. True anaemia, however, can be mild, moderate or severe and can cause weakness, tiredness and dizziness. Severe anaemia makes women at risk of cardiac failure and is very common in low‐income countries Anaemia has many causes including a shortage or iron, folic acid or vitamin B12. These are all required for making red cells and are available in a good diet. Iron shortage, however, is the most common cause of anaemia during pregnancy. Iron treatment can be given by mouth (oral), by injection into the muscle (intramuscular) or injection into the vein (intravenous). Blood transfusion or giving something which stimulates the body to produce more red cells (erythropoietin) are also possible treatments.

Treatment for women with iron deficiency anaemia after childbirth

Anaemia is a condition where the blood contains less than normal haemoglobin (low blood count), as shown in blood tests. Haemoglobin is the molecule within red blood cells that requires iron to carry oxygen. Insufficient iron intake/uptake and iron loss (bleeding) can cause iron deficiency anaemia. Anaemia symptoms include tiredness, shortness of breath and dizziness. Women may bleed severely at childbirth and many pregnant women already have anaemia, which can worsen as a result of bleeding. Severe anaemia can be linked to maternal deaths. Iron deficiency anaemia after childbirth is more likely to occur in low‐income countries.

See all (27)

Terms to know

Folic Acid (Folate)
A member of the vitamin B family. It is present in the liver and kidney and is found in mushrooms, spinach, yeast, green leaves, and grasses.
Hemoglobin
A protein inside red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to tissues and organs in the body and carries carbon dioxide back to the lungs.
Iron
An important mineral the body needs to make hemoglobin, a substance in the blood that carries oxygen from the lungs to tissues throughout the body. Iron is also an important part of many other proteins and enzymes needed by the body for normal growth and development. It is found in red meat, fish, poultry, lentils, beans, and foods with iron added, such as cereal.
Red Blood Cells (Erythrocytes)
A cell that carries oxygen to all parts of the body.

More about Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Photo of a young adult woman

Also called: Iron-deficiency anaemia

See Also: Anemia

Other terms to know: See all 4
Folic Acid (Folate), Hemoglobin, Iron

Related articles:
Getting Enough Iron in Your Diet

Keep up with systematic reviews on Iron-Deficiency Anemia:

RSS

PubMed Health Blog...

read all...