What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency anemia occurs when there is not enough iron in the body to produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin, which gives blood its red color, is an important part of the system that enables red blood cells to carry oxygenated blood throughout the body. The bodies of people who do not consume enough iron or lose too much iron in their daily lives cannot produce enough hemoglobin. This directly causes iron-deficiency anemia.
Causes of iron deficiency anemia include primarily blood loss, dietary iron deficiency, inability to absorb iron, and pregnancy.
Medical conditions that cause slow but chronic blood loss in the body, such as colon polyps, gastric hernias, colorectal cancer, or peptic ulcers, can also cause iron deficiency anemia. Gastrointestinal bleeding, i.e., bleeding in the digestive tract, can result from regular use of over-the-counter pain relievers.
Iron in food is absorbed into the bloodstream from the small intestines within the individual's digestive system. An intestinal disease such as celiac disease that affects a person's intestines' ability to absorb nutrients from digested food can lead to the development of iron deficiency anemia in a person. If part of the small intestine has been surgically bypassed or removed, this can directly impair an individual's ability to absorb iron and other nutrients.
Many pregnant women develop iron deficiency anemia because their iron stores must serve their own increased blood volume in addition to being a source of hemoglobin for the growing fetus. To prevent this, it is necessary to take iron supplements at the rates recommended by the doctor during pregnancy.
Infants, children, women, frequent blood donors, vegetarians, and vegans are at higher risk of developing iron deficiency anemia. In general, women are at greater risk for iron deficiency anemia because they both lose blood during menstruation and increase their iron needs during pregnancy.
What complications can occur in iron deficiency anemia?
Mild iron deficiency anemia usually does not cause complications. However, if treatment is not started early, iron deficiency anemia can worsen and lead to various health problems.
Complications that can occur with iron deficiency anemia include growth problems in general, problems that can occur during pregnancy, and heart problems. In addition, iron deficiency anemia is directly related to increased susceptibility to infections.
Severe iron deficiency in infants and children can cause both anemia and delayed growth and development. Severe iron deficiency anemia in pregnant women has been directly associated with preterm births and low birth weight infants. However, it is easily preventable for pregnant women who take iron supplements as part of their antenatal care.
Iron deficiency anemia can cause irregular or fast heartbeats in both adults and children. The hearts of anemic individuals have to pump more blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen carried in the blood. This can lead to an enlarged heart or heart failure due to overwork.
How to Prevent Iron Deficiency Anemia
Under normal conditions, the easiest and most effective way to prevent iron deficiency anemia is to prefer foods rich in iron and thus minimize the risk of iron deficiency anemia.
Iron-rich foods include peas, seafood, beans, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, red meat, poultry like chicken or turkey, dried fruits like raisins or apricots, iron-rich cereals, and gluten, especially bread or pasta. Contains cereal products.
The human body can absorb much more iron from meat than from other sources. Individuals who choose not to eat meat may need to significantly increase their intake of iron-rich, plant-based foods to absorb healthy amounts of iron.
It may be beneficial to increase the consumption of foods containing vitamin C to increase iron absorption. Naturally found in citrus juices such as orange or lemon juice, vitamin C helps an individual's digestive system absorb iron better. Vitamin C is concentrated in peppers, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, grapefruit, melons, kiwis, tangerines, oranges, and green leafy vegetables.