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The most common cause of anemia is iron deficiency. Iron is needed to form hemoglobin, part of red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body. Iron is mostly stored in the hemoglobin. About one-third of iron is also stored as ferritin and hemosiderin in the bone marrow, spleen, and liver.
Iron-deficiency anemia may be caused by the following:
People who have an increased need for iron are at risk for iron-deficiency anemia. This includes:
The following are the most common symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia may look like other blood conditions or medical problems. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.
Your doctor may suspect Iron-deficiency anemia based on your symptoms and a complete medical history and physical exam. This condition is usually found through a blood test that measures the amount of hemoglobin (number of red blood cells) present, and the amount of iron in the blood. Other tests may include:
Specific treatment for iron-deficiency anemia will be determined by your health care provider based on:
Treatment may include:
Eating a diet with iron-rich foods can help treat iron-deficiency anemia. Good sources of iron include the following:
Iron supplements can be taken over several months to increase iron levels in the blood. Iron supplements can irritate the stomach and discolor bowel movements. They should be taken on an empty stomach, or with orange juice, to increase absorption. They are much more effective than dietary changes alone.
This may include upper endoscopy or colonoscopy.
The best way to prevent iron-deficiency anemia is to eat a well-balanced diet that includes iron-rich foods. If you or your child is unable to eat an iron-rich diet, you have heavy monthly periods, or other risk factors, talk with your health care provider about taking an iron supplement.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.