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Agnogenic Metaplasia
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Hemolytic Syndrome
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Multiple Myeloma
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Polycythemia Vera
Sickle Cell Anemia
Von Willebrand's Disease
Wegener's Granulomatosis


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Iron deficiency anemia

What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Iron Deficiency Anemia (also called IDA) is a condition where a person has inadequate amounts of iron to meet body demands. It is a decrease in the amount of red cells in the blood caused by having too little iron. Iron deficiency anemia is usually caused by a diet insufficient in iron or from blood loss. Blood loss can be acute as in hemorrhage or trauma or long term as in heavy menstruation.

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common form of anemia. About 20% of women, 50% of pregnant women, and 3% of men are iron deficient.

Some people with iron deficiency anemia always feel cold. They feel cold because iron plays a role in regulating the body's temperature.

Iron deficiency anemia and sickle cell anemia are VERY DIFFERENT.

Individuals with iron deficiency anemia may also experience pica.

What is Iron?

Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, the oxygen carrying pigment in the blood. Iron is normally obtained through the food in the diet.

Iron is part of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of the blood. Iron-deficient people tire easily because their bodies are starved for oxygen. Iron is also part of myoglobin. Myoglobin helps muscle cells store oxygen. Without enough iron, the body's fuel cannot be properly synthesized.

What Causes Iron Deficiency Anemia?

The main causes of iron deficiency are: poor absorption of iron by the body (Vitamin C aides in iron absorption), inadequate daily intake of iron, pregnancy, growth spurts or blood loss due to heavy period or internal bleeding.

Anemia develops slowly after the normal stores of iron have been depleted in the body and in the bone marrow. Women, in general, have smaller stores of iron than men. Women also lose iron more frequently than men because of the blood loss during menstruation.

In men and postmenopausal women, anemia is usually due to gastrointestinal blood loss associated with ulcers, the use of aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS), or colon cancer.

Gaucher Disease may also cause anemia.

Am I at Risk for Iron Deficiency Anemia?

High-risk groups include: women of child-bearing age who have blood loss through menstruation; pregnant or lactating women who have an increased requirement for iron; infants, children, and adolescents in rapid growth phases; and people with a poor dietary intake of iron through a diet of little or no meat or eggs for several years. Risk factors related to blood loss are peptic ulcer disease, long term aspirin use, or colon cancer.

Vegetarians are at risk of developing anemia. This usually occurs because they don't eat meat, (especially red meat) which is high in iron. However, vegetarians don't always develop anemia. There are many vegetables that contain iron (such as broccoli and spinach).

Can Anemia be Prevented?

Yes. If your diet is high in iron, you probably won't be anemic. Iron can be found in red meat, liver, raisins, spinach, broccoli, and egg yolks.

What are the Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia?

There are many symptoms of anemia. Each individual will not experience all the symptoms and if the anemia is mild, the symptoms may not be noticeable. Some of the symptoms are: Pale skin color, fatigue, irritability, dizziness, weakness, shortness of breath, sore tongue, brittle nails, decreased appetite (especially in children), headache - frontal.

How will I know if I'm Anemic?

If you believe you may be anemic, ask your doctor and he will perform some tests. The tests are simple. Some of the tests are: red blood cell measures of hemocrit and hemoglobin; size of red blood cells, serum iron level, and iron binding capacity in the blood.

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