Ask Your Doctor: IRON DEFICIENCY ANAEMIA IN WOMEN

anguillian
By anguillian November 6, 2017 11:28 Updated

 

 

Anaemia is very common in women and one of the most common cause of anaemia in women is that of iron deficiency. Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), particularly affecting menstruating women, pregnant women, vegans and vegetarians. Many women have low iron levels and simply do not know it, while others have symptoms and fail to seek help. There are many complications of iron deficiency some of which can be life-threatening.

What is iron deficiency anemia?
Iron deficiency anemia occurs when your body does not have enough iron.
Iron is important because it helps you get enough oxygen throughout your body. Your body uses iron to make haemoglobin which is a part of your red blood cells. Haemoglobin carries oxygen through your body. If you do not have enough iron, your body makes fewer and smaller red blood cells. Then your body has less haemoglobin, resulting in insufficient oxygen.

What are some symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia?
In some forms of mild iron deficiency anaemia there might be no symptoms at all. When there are symptoms, especial in severe anaemia, they include the following:

• tiredness and lack of energy
• shortness of breath especially during exercise
• noticeable heartbeats (heart palpitations)
• pale skin
• headache
• trouble concentrating
• irritability
• pale skin
What causes iron deficiency anemia in women?
Iron deficiency anaemia in women is caused by low levels of iron in the body. You might have low iron levels because you:
• Have heavy menstrual bleeding.
• Are not getting enough iron in food.
• Internal bleeding. This bleeding may be caused by problems such as ulcers, haemorrhoids, or cancer. Regular aspirin use can also cause bleeding.
• Poor absorption of iron in the body. This problem may occur if you have celiac disease or if you have had part of your stomach or small intestine removed.

Making the diagnosis
If you think you might be having iron deficiency anaemia, you should see your doctor for a complete evaluation and various investigations to determine the cause of the anaemia.
Treatment
Once a diagnosis is made your doctor will treat the cause of iron deficiency anaemia and then probably have you take iron supplement pills and eat foods rich in iron to treat your anaemia.
Foods rich in iron include, meat, eggs, soybeans, beans, peas, peanuts, dark-green leafy vegetables and oatmeal.
In conjunction with high-iron foods, eat foods high in vitamin C that promote iron absorption. This group includes citrus fruits and juices, melons, strawberries, kiwi, broccoli, leafy greens, peppers and tomatoes.
If you think you have anemia, do not try to treat yourself. Do not take iron pills on your own without seeing your doctor first. If you take iron pills without talking with your doctor first, the pills may cause you to have too much iron in your blood, or even iron poisoning. Your low iron level may be caused by a serious problem, such as a bleeding ulcer or cancers such as stomach or colon cancer.

If you leave your iron deficiency anaemia untreated
If you think you have iron deficiency anaemia seek professional help as it can be treated. Left untreated iron deficiency anaemia can result in the following:
• can make you more at risk of illness and infection, as a lack of iron affects the immune system
• may increase your risk of developing complications that affect the heart or lungs, such as an abnormally fast heartbeat (tachycardia) or heart failure
• in pregnancy can cause a greater risk of complications before and after birth.

Conclusion
Iron deficiency anaemia is very common in women. If the anaemia is mild there might be few symptoms, but in severe forms, symptoms can be very severe. Fortunately, iron deficiency anaemia can be successfully treated, but it is important to determine the cause of iron deficiency iron as some cancers can also cause iron deficiency anaemia.

Ask Your Doctor is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. The reader should consult his or her physician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field are ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

Dr Brett Hodge MB BS DGO MRCOG, is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Family Doctor who has over thirty-two years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in The Johnson Building in The Valley (Tel: 264 4975828).

anguillian
By anguillian November 6, 2017 11:28 Updated

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