Understanding Iron Deficiency Anemia – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Understanding Iron Deficiency Anemia – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the red blood cells that carry hemoglobin lack essential iron needed for optimal health. You need iron so that oxygen in the blood is carried to the appropriate tissues, and iron also plays a huge role in metabolic processes. This is why iron deficiency can lead to many physical problems.


If your diet is really poor and you do not get at least some of each major food group, lack of iron in your body can easily occur. If you are a very strict vegetarian, your diet definitely lacks iron.

Being pregnant causes a lack of iron in the blood many times.

Menstruating or having extremely heavy and painful periods can easily bring on anemia.

Donating blood too often

Crohn’s Disease can cause iron deficiency.

Also, some medications can create an iron production problem along with caffeine.

People that have kidney disease are likely to develop iron deficiency as well. This is due to the lack of EPO production which is a hormone made by the kidneys. EPO can be injected in kidney patients in order to restore the hormone and help the person to feel better. It usually needs to be injected several times per week.

Symptoms that you may have iron-deficiency anemia are:

1. Your fingernails break easily.

2. You may feel a lack of hunger.

3. You may be having a lot of headaches.

4. You may feel lethargic and weak

5. There might be a shortness of breath.

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6. You may be feeling depressed or agitated.

7. Sometimes there are people that have a sore tongue.

8. Your skin color may be extremely pale.


The sure way to tell iron deficiency is to run a complete blood count. The complete blood count or CBC, will total the number or both red and white blood cells that you are making. The amount of hemoglobin can also be determined with this blood test.

Doctors may choose to run a test which tells them about the ability of your blood to bind with iron.There are also other blood tests that can tell your doctor exactly what your iron (serum) level is.


The treatments given are usually iron supplements unless the cause is kidney disease. Sometimes if the iron deficiency is too severe, a transfusion may be needed.

Dietary changes will probably also be given. Eating foods that provide the body with iron such as raisins, dried beans, (in other words legumes), fish, and some meats. Liver is about the best iron source.