I’m here today to talk to you about iron deficiency anemia. Many people suffer from iron deficiency anemia for many years and it causes a huge amount of symptoms and unfortunately, many of these people don’t know that they suffer from iron deficiency anemia and that’s we’re making this video today. So what is iron deficiency anemia? Well, let’s start with the basics what is iron?
Well, iron is a tiny little mineral, it’s very commonly found in foods such as red meat and dark green vegetables and its main role in the body is in the transportation of oxygen around from organ to organ or from cell to cell and this is through red blood cells and these organs use the oxygen for your body’s metabolism. Too much iron in the body can lead to conditions like hemochromatosis and too little iron, as we’re discussing, can lead to iron deficiency anemia So what are the signs or symptoms of iron deficiency anemia?
Well, the signs of symptoms of iron deficiency anemia really depend on how anemic you are and that might sound quite obvious but in the early stages of anemia you may only have very mild symptoms or signs, for example, you may be pale or somebody may comment that on the fact that you’repale. You may feel tired all the time you might not feel rested after a good night’s sleep or you might feel cold all the time and it takes you ages to warm up that might be signs of having mild anemia As your anemia gets more severe.
A protein in your blood called hemoglobin drops, so your iron levels drop, and you can develop much more severe symptoms for example shortness of breath you might find that you can’t go up the stairs as easily as you could before. You may even develop chest pain, which may be quite frightening, and it might you might feel like you’re having heart problems. You might develop very brittle nails and hair and your hair might tin or fall out and very unusual cases and rare cases and but it is noted with iron-deficiency anemia.
Particularly severe iron deficiency anemia, you may develop a craving for non-food substances. So you may have a really strong desire to eat coal, would you believe, or ice or even sand or gravel. So what are the causes of iron deficiency anemia? Well, we can break the causes up into, I suppose, three different kinds of headings. So the first heading that I’ll talk about is an insufficient intake. So it is what it sounds like, so you’re not taking in enough iron in your diet and that can be very commonly found in people who are vegetarian or particularly vegans.
Iron is found in large quantities in red meat and dark leafy vegetables and it’s important to remember that when you boil your dark vegetables you lose a good proportion of iron. So it’s always better to steam your vegetables if you want to increase your iron intake. So that’s the first category of reasons why people might be iron deficiency anemia, so a lack of intake. The second reason why people might suffer from iron deficiency anemia is an increased loss of blood or an increased loss of iron from the body and that’s normally through bleeding.
How do we bleed or what kind of conditions would cause excessive bleeding. Well, women, very heavy periods would be the most common cause of iron deficiency anemia. There are also other types of gynecological problems in women that will lead to an increase in bleeding for example endometriosis where there’s an increased lining or thickening of the lining of the womb. Then there are conditions, for example, from the bowel that will cause increased blood loss, for example, very severe hemorrhoids.
Most of the timepieces or hemorrhoids wouldn’t cause enough bleeding to cause iron deficiency anemia but in severe cases, they can. But colon cancer or bowel cancer or colorectal cancer is another very very common cause of having iron deficiency anemia. So they would be some examples of increased loss of iron from the body. So we’ve talked about not taking in iron, and we’ve talked about losing too much iron, and then the third kind of title or third heading would be an inability to absorb iron.
You’re taking in enough iron and you’re not losing iron, but your body isn’t using the iron that you’re taking. So some conditions that can cause this would be if you have any, generally bowel conditions like celiac disease or any malabsorption syndromes for example inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or colitis or indeed if you’ve had gastric bypass surgery or a gastric sleeve for weight loss. These can be some reasons why you’re taking in enough iron and you’re not losing any excess of blood but your body can’t use the iron that you’re taking in.
A lot of my patients will say to me, well shall I get tested for iron deficiency or iron-deficiency anemia? Well, I suppose the answer is yes. Most of us should have our iron tested at some point in our lives but particularly if you’ve any of the following symptoms so if you’re tired all the time, if you’re feeling cold, if you’re pale or somebody’s noticed that you’re pale if you’re a vegetarian or vegan and you’re not replacing your diet with iron supplements or iron-rich foods, then we would advise you also to get checked.
If you have a family history of iron deficiency anemia or you have any suffer from any of the conditions we talked about above for, example, celiac disease inflammatory bowel disease. If you’ve any gynecological problems or if you’ve very heavy periods then we would advise you to also get checked for iron deficiency anemia.
One of the best ways to tell if you’re anemic to look at the mucous membranes of your eyes, also commonly referred to as the waterline above your lower lashes. This is a vascular area so if it’s pale, it’s a good sign that you’re not getting enough red blood cells to other areas of your body either. Your face, the palms of your hands, and under your nail beds may also look pale.
A medical oncologist and hematologist at MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in FountainValley, Calif. 3. Shortness of breath. If you feel like you can’t catch your breath, especially during exercise, while climbing the stairs or when you’re lifting something, it’s a good sign that your body isn’t getting the oxygen it needs. Feeling faint, lightheaded, and dizzy are common too. 3. Heart palpitations.