Unknown facts you must know about Iron Deficiency Anaemia
Iron deficiency anemia is a condition when the blood does not have a sufficient amount of red blood cells. These cells transmit oxygen to the tissues of your body. This common anemia usually takes place due to insufficient amount of iron in the body that cannot produce proper substance that enables to carry oxygen. Thus, iron deficiency anemia can be the reason for extreme tiredness and shortness of breath.
You may usually correct the problem of iron deficiency anemia by taking supplements of iron. Sometimes, additional tests and treatments for iron deficiency anemia are needed particularly when the doctor suspects that you are bleeding internally.
Iron deficiency anemia may be mild initially and so, it often goes unnoticed. But as your body gets deficient in iron, anemia worsens and its signs and symptoms intensify.
Some signs and symptoms of iron deficiency include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Pale skin
- Chest pain
- Quick heartbeat or shortness of breath
- Headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
- Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
- Cold feet and hands
- Brittle nails
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, starch or dirt
- Poor appetite in infants and children who have iron deficiency anemia
When you need to visit a doctor
If you or your child develops some signs and symptoms that link to the deficiency of iron causing anemia, then it istime to see your doctor immediately. The problem cannot be diagnosed or treated at home, therefore, it is suggested to book nearest private doctor as soon as possible so that you can begin treatment.
Your doctor may ask to perform certain tests for diagnosing iron deficiency anemia. Some of these include the following:
- Red blood cell size and color – Due to the deficiency of iron, anemia occurs and the cells turn small and pale in color.
- Hematocrit –This is the percentage of blood volume made by red blood cells. The normal levels are usually between 38.3 to 48.6 percent for adult men and 35.5 and 44.9 percent for adult women. However, the values can change with age.
- Hemoglobin – This is quite lower than normal levels of hemoglobin that denotes anemia. The normal range of hemoglobin is defined as 13.2 to 16.6 grams (g) per deciliter (dL) of blood for men and 11.6 to 15. g/dL for women.
- Ferritin – The protein stores iron in the body with low level of ferritin whichindicates areduced level of stored iron.
Other diagnostic tests to perform
If the doctor found iron deficiency anemia, then he/she may ask to undergo other tests for detecting an underlying cause. This consists of the following:
- Endoscopy – The doctors will lookfor bleeding due to a hiatal hernia, the stomach or an ulcer with endoscopy. During this procedure, a thin and lighted tube is equipped with a video camera that gets passed down in your throat to the stomach. This will enable the doctor to see the tube that usually runs from your mouth to your stomach or esophagus and your stomach to detect the sources of bleeding.
- Colonoscopy – If you want toexclude lower intestinal sources of bleeding, then your doctor will suggest a procedure called a colonoscopy. A thin and flexible tube is equipped with a video camera that will be inserted into the rectum and guided to the colon. You are sedated at the time of performing the test. A colonoscopy enables the doctor to view inside some or all of the colon and rectum for detecting internal bleeding.
- Ultrasound – Women might even have a pelvic ultrasound to find the cause of excessive menstrual bleeding like uterine fibroids.
Your doctor may ask to perform these tests or other tests after the trial period of the treatment with iron supplements.
If you want to treat the deficiency of iron that can cause anemia, then your doctor might suggest taking iron supplements. He will also treatthe underlying cause of your iron deficiency, as and when needed.
Your doctor may suggest taking over-the-counter iron tablets of the correct dose. Iron is also availablein liquid form forinfants and children. If you want to improve the chances of your body absorbing iron, then you will be instructed to:
- Take iron tablets with an empty stomach – You need to take iron tablets when you have an empty stomach. Since these tablets may upset your stomach, you may also try to take the iron tablets with your meals.
- Do not have iron with antacids – Some medications can relieve the symptoms of heartburn andeven interfere with the absorption of iron. You can take iron at least two hours before or four hours after taking antacids.
- Include iron tablets with Vitamin C – Vitamin C can help in improving the absorption of iron. Your doctor may recommend taking iron tablets with orange juice or vitamin C supplement.
Iron supplements may lead to constipation and so, your doctor might suggest a stool softener. Iron can turn stools black, which is nothing to worry about as it does not cause any side effects.
It is not possible to correct iron deficiency at once. For this, you will have to take iron supplements for a few months in order to overcome this problem. You will feel better after one week or so of the treatment. It is advised to ask the doctor when you should recheck your blood in order to find out your new iron levels.
How to treat underlying causes of iron deficiency
If iron supplements do not increase the level of blood-iron, then it is quite probable thatthe anemia is due to iron-absorption problem or source of bleeding that your doctor will have to treat. Based on your exact cause, iron deficiency anemia treatment might involve:
- Medications like oral contraceptives to lighten excessive menstrual flow.
- Antibiotics and other medications for the treatment of peptic ulcers.
- Surgery to remove a fibroid, a bleeding polyp or a tumor.
In case iron deficiency anemia is severe, then you might be given iron intravenously or require blood transfusions for replacing hemoglobin and iron quickly.
Prepare for your appointment
You need to fix an appointment with your doctor when you detect any signs and symptoms that may be worrying you. If you are diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, your doctor might ask to undergo some tests and detect thesource of blood loss. You will also have to perform other tests for examining your gastrointestinal tract.
What you can do
- Write the symptoms you face – This includes anything that may not be related to the reason for which you had fixed the appointment.
- Write important personal information – This will include any stresses or recent changes in your lifestyle.
- Create a list of all medications – You need to make a list of all thevitamins or supplements you are taking.
- Note all questions to askyour doctor – You should write down all the questions to ask your doctor.
Some important questions to ask the doctor are the following:
- What is the most common cause of the symptoms?
- Are there other causes for the symptoms?
- Can your condition be temporary or long lasting?
- What kind of treatment do you suggest?
- Are there other options to primary approach you may suggest?
- How can you deal with other health problems at the same time?
- Are there any restrictions with the diet you need to follow?
- Are there any brochures that you need to carry?
What you can expect from your doctor
Your doctor will ask several questions and some of them are the following:
- When have you started experiencing symptoms?
- How severe were the symptoms?
- Has anything improved your symptoms?
- What can you do if anything seems to make the symptoms worse?
- Did you findabnormal bleeding such as heavy periods, nosebleeds or bleeding from hemorrhoids?
- Are you a vegetarian?
- Have you donated blood more than once?
You need to visit your doctor at the walk in clinic in London to perform the necessary tests and get treated on time.