Iron Deficiency: The Causes, Detection, and Treatment

spinach-bundlesIron Deficiency: The Causes, Detection, and Treatment

Background:

IDA or iron deficiency anemia is a result of a lack of iron in the human body. This causes a complication of hemoglobin, resulting in the body being unable to obtain enough oxygen. IDA can be caused by a few different occurrences, such as not receiving an adequate level of iron through intake, internal bleeding, or being unable to fully absorb iron into the body. Whatever the cause, research throughout the years has furthered the knowledge available on treatments for IDA, as well as how it can be detected, its symptoms, and how it affects the human body.

Further Investigation into the Causes of Iron Deficiency Anemia

IDA or iron deficiency anemia is a result of a lack of iron in the human body. This causes a complication of hemoglobin, resulting in the body being unable to obtain enough oxygen. IDA can be caused by a few different occurrences, such as not receiving an adequate level of iron through intake, internal bleeding, or being unable to fully absorb iron into the body. Whatever the cause, research throughout the years has furthered the knowledge available on treatments for IDA, as well as how it can be detected, its symptoms, and how it affects the human body.

Further Investigation into the Causes of IDA

Understanding the cause of iron deficiency will lead to a more accurate treatment as well as better preventative measures. In premenopausal women, iron deficiency can be a result of loss through menstrual blood, while postmenopausal women may suffer from gastrointestinal blood loss. IDA is also thought to be a symptom of Celiac disease. Helicobacter pylori infection is under investigation to be related to unexplained IDA. This is because H. pylori are thought to compete with the stomach to sequester free iron, and ultimately excel it so much as to cause iron deficiency in the host.

Detection of Iron Deficiency 

The symptoms of iron deficiency can help people determine its prevalence. Some signs include hair loss, lethargy, pica, and angular cheilosis. However, most people with the condition will exhibit no signs other than fatigue. Therefore, many laboratory tests are done to diagnosis the issue. Serum ferritin levels indicate the bodies iron stores, and is therefore used as a common indicator. Transferrin is also used as an indicator, as it plays a role in iron delivery to the tissues. The cutoff for serum ferritin and transferrin are 30mcg/L and 16% saturation for the later. It is ideal to run many tests, as abnormalities caused in these levels can be a result of other complications such as chronic inflammation or liver disease. Reticulocyte hemoglobin and other markers have also been investigated to varying degrees of success in identifying iron deficiency.

How to Treat IDA

The common treatment for iron deficiency anemia is to replenish iron stores through methods such as oral iron or IV (intravenous) iron, depending on the root causes. Oral iron is more suited if the needs are not immediate, while IV iron is for those that either need a more immediate boost, or for those that did not improve from oral iron treatments. However, there is the added risk of hypophosphatemia or HPP after iron infusions. This means that the body becomes deficient in phosphate, an important nutrient. Therefore, a safer method of obtaining more iron is through food. Certain diets can also be effective in providing the body more iron including foods such as red meats, nuts, or fortified cereals.

What to Do If You Think You May Have Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency isn’t simply related to diet or nutritional changes. If you think that you have any of the symptoms or are simply concerned about your health, it is important that you seek medical attention. A doctor can help you ease your mind or put you on the right path to a healthier body. 

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