Iron deficient anemia is a decreased total iron body content. It occurs when iron deficiency is severe enough to lower the amount of red blood cells being formed and it causes the development of anemia. It is the most common deficiency in the world. Hemorrhages can also cause anemia and much greater problems. Bleeding can also be so slow that it is often overlooked.
Iron is a necessity for all living organisms because it is needed for many processes. Iron levels are carefully regulated by the body to make sure there is plenty absorbed to make up for what is lost. Problems in this regulation cause iron deficiency or overload. This balance is mostly done in the small intestine. In the US iron deficiency is most common in women or due to a hemorrhage. The deficiency due to diet alone is rare when meat is an important part of the daily meals. In some countries where meat is not as common, iron deficient anemia occurs 6-8 times more often then in North America and Europe. This happens because heme iron, from meats, is absorbed better than nonheme iron.
Knowing the diet history of a patient is important because vegetarians are more likely to have a iron deficiency. Bleeding because of hemorrhage is the most common reason for someone to be iron deficient. Iron deficiency causes fatigue and a lower ability to perform difficult manual labor. There is some evidence to show there are many other symptoms also, such as poor school performance, lower resistance to infection, and altered behavior.
There are some lab tests that cam be done to show the diagnosis and severity of iron deficient anemia such as a complete blood count, which shows the concentration of red blood cells. The platelet count is often higher with iron deficient anemia. The white blood count is usually normal. A peripheral smear can also be done to examine the individual red blood cells. A bone marrow aspirate can also be used to determine iron deficiency by staining the iron. Other...
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