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Anemia common causes: Anemia – Symptoms and causes

Iron deficiency anemia – Symptoms & causes


Iron deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia — a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.

As the name implies, iron deficiency anemia is due to insufficient iron. Without enough iron, your body can’t produce enough of a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen (hemoglobin). As a result, iron deficiency anemia may leave you tired and short of breath.

You can usually correct iron deficiency anemia with iron supplementation. Sometimes additional tests or treatments for iron deficiency anemia are necessary, especially if your doctor suspects that you’re bleeding internally.

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Initially, iron deficiency anemia can be so mild that it goes unnoticed. But as the body becomes more deficient in iron and anemia worsens, the signs and symptoms intensify.

Iron deficiency anemia signs and symptoms may include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
  • Headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia

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When to see a doctor

If you or your child develops signs and symptoms that suggest iron deficiency anemia, see your doctor. Iron deficiency anemia isn’t something to self-diagnose or treat. So see your doctor for a diagnosis rather than taking iron supplements on your own. Overloading the body with iron can be dangerous because excess iron accumulation can damage your liver and cause other complications.


Iron deficiency anemia occurs when your body doesn’t have enough iron to produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the part of red blood cells that gives blood its red color and enables the red blood cells to carry oxygenated blood throughout your body.

If you aren’t consuming enough iron, or if you’re losing too much iron, your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin, and iron deficiency anemia will eventually develop.

Causes of iron deficiency anemia include:

  • Blood loss. Blood contains iron within red blood cells. So if you lose blood, you lose some iron. Women with heavy periods are at risk of iron deficiency anemia because they lose blood during menstruation. Slow, chronic blood loss within the body — such as from a peptic ulcer, a hiatal hernia, a colon polyp or colorectal cancer — can cause iron deficiency anemia. Gastrointestinal bleeding can result from regular use of some over-the-counter pain relievers, especially aspirin.
  • A lack of iron in your diet. Your body regularly gets iron from the foods you eat. If you consume too little iron, over time your body can become iron deficient. Examples of iron-rich foods include meat, eggs, leafy green vegetables and iron-fortified foods. For proper growth and development, infants and children need iron from their diets, too.
  • An inability to absorb iron. Iron from food is absorbed into your bloodstream in your small intestine. An intestinal disorder, such as celiac disease, which affects your intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients from digested food, can lead to iron deficiency anemia. If part of your small intestine has been bypassed or removed surgically, that may affect your ability to absorb iron and other nutrients.
  • Pregnancy. Without iron supplementation, iron deficiency anemia occurs in many pregnant women because their iron stores need to serve their own increased blood volume as well as be a source of hemoglobin for the growing fetus.

Risk factors

These groups of people may have an increased risk of iron deficiency anemia:

  • Women. Because women lose blood during menstruation, women in general are at greater risk of iron deficiency anemia.
  • Infants and children. Infants, especially those who were low birth weight or born prematurely, who don’t get enough iron from breast milk or formula may be at risk of iron deficiency. Children need extra iron during growth spurts. If your child isn’t eating a healthy, varied diet, he or she may be at risk of anemia.
  • Vegetarians. People who don’t eat meat may have a greater risk of iron deficiency anemia if they don’t eat other iron-rich foods.
  • Frequent blood donors. People who routinely donate blood may have an increased risk of iron deficiency anemia since blood donation can deplete iron stores. Low hemoglobin related to blood donation may be a temporary problem remedied by eating more iron-rich foods. If you’re told that you can’t donate blood because of low hemoglobin, ask your doctor whether you should be concerned.


Mild iron deficiency anemia usually doesn’t cause complications. However, left untreated, iron deficiency anemia can become severe and lead to health problems, including the following:

  • Heart problems. Iron deficiency anemia may lead to a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Your heart must pump more blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen carried in your blood when you’re anemic. This can lead to an enlarged heart or heart failure.
  • Problems during pregnancy. In pregnant women, severe iron deficiency anemia has been linked to premature births and low birth weight babies. But the condition is preventable in pregnant women who receive iron supplements as part of their prenatal care.
  • Growth problems. In infants and children, severe iron deficiency can lead to anemia as well as delayed growth and development. Additionally, iron deficiency anemia is associated with an increased susceptibility to infections.


You can reduce your risk of iron deficiency anemia by choosing iron-rich foods.

Choose iron-rich foods

Foods rich in iron include:

  • Red meat, pork and poultry
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots
  • Iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas
  • Peas

Your body absorbs more iron from meat than it does from other sources. If you choose to not eat meat, you may need to increase your intake of iron-rich, plant-based foods to absorb the same amount of iron as does someone who eats meat.

Choose foods containing vitamin C to enhance iron absorption

You can enhance your body’s absorption of iron by drinking citrus juice or eating other foods rich in vitamin C at the same time that you eat high-iron foods. Vitamin C in citrus juices, like orange juice, helps your body to better absorb dietary iron.

Vitamin C is also found in:

  • Broccoli
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Leafy greens
  • Melons
  • Oranges
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerines
  • Tomatoes

Preventing iron deficiency anemia in infants

To prevent iron deficiency anemia in infants, feed your baby breast milk or iron-fortified formula for the first year. Cow’s milk isn’t a good source of iron for babies and isn’t recommended for infants under 1 year. After age 6 months, start feeding your baby iron-fortified cereals or pureed meats at least twice a day to boost iron intake. After one year, be sure children don’t drink more than 20 ounces (591 milliliters) of milk a day. Too much milk often takes the place of other foods, including those that are rich in iron.

Vitamin deficiency anemia – Symptoms & causes


Vitamin deficiency anemia is a lack of healthy red blood cells caused by lower than usual amounts of vitamin B-12 and folate.

This can happen if you don’t eat enough foods containing vitamin B-12 and folate, or if your body has trouble absorbing or processing these vitamins.

Without these nutrients, the body produces red blood cells that are too large and don’t work properly. This reduces their ability to carry oxygen.

Symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath and dizziness. Vitamin supplements, taken by pill or injection, can correct the deficiencies.

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Vitamin deficiency anemia usually develops slowly over several months to years. Signs and symptoms may be subtle at first but usually increase as the deficiency worsens. These may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Weight loss
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Muscle weakness
  • Personality changes
  • Unsteady movements
  • Mental confusion or forgetfulness


Vitamin deficiency anemia can occur if you don’t eat enough foods containing vitamin B-12 and folate, or if your body has trouble absorbing or processing these vitamins.

Vitamin B-12 deficiencies

Low levels of vitamin B-12 can be caused by:

  • Diet. Vitamin B-12 is mainly found in meat, eggs and milk, so people who don’t eat these types of foods may need to take B-12 supplements. Some foods have been fortified with B-12, including some breakfast cereals and some nutritional yeast products.
  • Pernicious anemia. This condition occurs when the body’s immune system attacks cells in the stomach that produce a substance called intrinsic factor. Without this substance, B-12 can’t be absorbed in the intestines.
  • Gastric surgeries. If portions of your stomach or intestines have been surgically removed, that can reduce the amount of intrinsic factor produced and the amount of space available for vitamin B-12 to be absorbed.
  • Intestinal problems. Crohn’s disease and celiac disease can interfere with absorption of vitamin B-12, as can tapeworms that may be ingested from eating contaminated fish.

Folate deficiencies

Also known as vitamin B-9, folate is a nutrient found mainly in dark green leafy vegetables and liver. A folate deficiency can occur when people don’t eat foods containing folate or their bodies are unable to absorb folate from food.

Absorption problems may be caused by:

  • Intestinal diseases such as celiac disease
  • Surgical removal or bypass of a large part of the intestines
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Prescription drugs, such as some anti-seizure medications

Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding have an increased demand for folate, as do people undergoing dialysis for kidney disease.

A lack of folate can cause birth defects during pregnancy. However, folate deficiency is less common now in countries that routinely add folate to food products such as breads, cereals and pasta.


Being deficient in vitamin B-12 or folate increases your risk of many health problems, including:

  • Pregnancy complications. A developing fetus that doesn’t get enough folate from its mother can develop birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Nervous system disorders. Untreated, vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to neurological problems, such as persistent tingling in the hands and feet or problems with balance. It can lead to mental confusion and forgetfulness because vitamin B-12 is necessary for healthy brain function.
  • Gastric cancer. Pernicious anemia increases the risk of stomach or intestinal cancers.


You can prevent some forms of vitamin deficiency anemia by choosing a healthy diet that includes a variety of foods.

Foods rich in vitamin B-12 include:

  • Beef, liver, chicken and fish
  • Eggs
  • Fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals
  • Milk, cheese and yogurt

Foods rich in folate include:

  • Broccoli, spinach, asparagus and lima beans
  • Oranges, lemons, bananas, strawberries and melons
  • Enriched grain products, such as bread, cereal, pasta and rice
  • Liver, kidneys, yeast, mushrooms and peanuts

Most adults need these daily dietary amounts of the following vitamins:

  • Vitamin B-12 — 2. 4 micrograms (mcg)
  • Folate or folic acid — 400 microgram (mcg)

Pregnant and breastfeeding women may require more of each vitamin.

Most people get enough vitamins from the foods they eat. But if your diet is restricted or you’ve had gastric bypass surgery, you may wish to take a multivitamin.

Anemia – articles about health

Anemia is a pathological condition of the body, which is characterized by a decrease in the number of red blood cells and hemoglobin in a blood unit. Anemia is most often a symptom of a disease. This condition affects people of all ages and genders.

Anemia is defined as a decrease in hemoglobin below 110 g / l – in children 6 months – 6 years old, below 120 g / l – in children 6-14 years old, below 120 – in adult women, below 130 – in adult men.

Causes of the disease

Lack of folic acid, iron or vitamin B12 is considered to be one of the most common causes of anemia. Also, anemia develops due to heavy bleeding during menstruation or against the background of certain oncological diseases. Often, anemia is manifested due to the insufficiency of substances that are responsible for the production of hemoglobin, as well as failures in the formation of red blood cells. Hereditary diseases and exposure to toxic substances can also cause anemia.

Depending on the causes of the disease, it is customary to divide all anemias into three types:

  • posthemorrhagic,
  • hemolytic,
  • associated with impaired blood formation (deficient and hypoplastic).

Posthemorrhagic anemia associated with acute or chronic blood loss (bleeding, injury).

Hemolytic – develop due to increased destruction of red blood cells.

Deficiency anemia is caused by a lack of vitamins, iron or other trace elements that are essential for blood formation.

Hypoplastic anemia is the most severe type of anemia and is associated with impaired hematopoiesis in the bone marrow.


Anemia is manifested by dizziness, tinnitus, flies before the eyes, shortness of breath, palpitations. Dry skin, pallor are noted, ulcerations, cracks appear in the corners of the mouth.

Typical manifestations are brittleness and layering of nails, their transverse striation. Nails become flat, sometimes take a concave spoon shape.

Some patients report a burning sensation of the tongue. Perhaps a perversion of taste in the form of an indomitable desire to eat chalk, toothpaste, ashes, and the like, as well as an addiction to certain smells (acetone, gasoline).

In the early stages, anemia may not have pronounced manifestations, in which case the diagnosis is made after special diagnostic measures.


Diagnosis requires blood tests, including a count of blood cells. A family history of the disease should also be taken. When there are only slight manifestations of anemia, a radioactive chromium test can be performed, which allows you to determine the life expectancy of blood cells, which is shortened with the disease.

Other special tests may be needed to look for abnormalities in the red blood cell membrane, enzymes, or hemoglobin. Sometimes a bone marrow sample may be taken to look for causes that may cause hemolytic anemia.


Mild anemia often does not require medical treatment. It is recommended to eat more foods that contain iron, proteins and other vitamins and minerals, to be outdoors more often.

Drug therapy is prescribed by a doctor only when the type of anemia, cause and severity are clear. Quite often, anemia does not require medical correction, especially when the cause, against which the anemia appeared, is eliminated.

If, nevertheless, the disease requires medical treatment, then the doctor prescribes drugs that will allow the bone marrow to quickly replenish the deficiency of red blood cells and hemoglobin in the blood.

In more severe cases where iron supplementation fails, the hematologist may prescribe glucocorticoid hormones, erythropoietins, anabolic steroids, chemotherapy drugs, and other drugs that are treated in a hospital. Any type of drug therapy should be combined with proper nutrition and lifestyle. The patient should stop smoking and drinking alcohol.

Anemia: Causes of Anemia, Symptoms of Anemia, Prevention of Anemia | doc.ua

Anemia can be asymptomatic and occurs for various reasons, against the background of various diseases and pathologies. With this disease, the level of hemoglobin is reduced, which is necessary for the transfer of oxygen to cells and for other important processes in the body. Women are more prone to anemia, as they lose iron not only daily, but also during menstruation and childbearing. The disease can occur in mild, moderate and severe forms. The consequences of anemia can be serious, as it leads to hypoxia, which negatively affects the state of all body systems.

The classification includes more than 400 types of anemia, differing in signs and origin of the disease.

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common form of anemia, accounting for 90% of cases of all types of the disease. Occurs when there is a lack of iron in the body, which is why the normal amount of hemoglobin is not produced. It is often observed in pregnant women, since in this period iron is needed twice as much as in the normal state. The extra iron is used in the formation of the blood cells of the gestating fetus. It can also occur in children due to poor nutrition.

Hemolytic anemia – with this type of disease, there is a decrease in the lifespan of red blood cells. In most cases, this is a congenital pathology.

Aplastic anemia is a type of anemia that occurs when the bone marrow stops making normal amounts of blood cells. This is a rare type of disease, observed at any age in women and men.

Hypochromic anemia – with this type of disease, the process of hemoglobin formation is impaired due to a decrease in the level of red blood cells. The cause may be a lack of iron, hereditary disorders in the formation of hemoglobin and chronic lead poisoning.

Posthemorrhagic anemia – the disease can begin after severe blood loss or chronic light bleeding, after frequent operations or injuries.

Pernicious anemia is a form of anemia due to a defect in the formation of blood cells that progresses against a background of vitamin B12 deficiency.

If anemia occurs during pregnancy, it can lead to serious consequences. The fetus does not receive oxygen, which is necessary for the normal development of the body, especially for the brain. Women during pregnancy with severe forms of anemia tolerate the period of childbearing worse, the likelihood of premature birth increases. There is an increased risk of developing infections after childbirth.

Causes of anemia

Causes of anemia may be congenital or acquired:

  • Poor and inadequate nutrition. The use of foods with a deficiency of iron and animal protein, a lack of vitamins and minerals necessary for blood formation. Anemia is common in vegetarians because they exclude animal protein from their diet.
  • Permanent blood loss. Blood loss can occur during diseases (polymenorrhea, hemorrhoids, bleeding gums), as well as during severe injuries and surgical interventions.
  • Frequent donation. In this case, anemia does not last long and is quickly treated with a balanced diet and a temporary refusal to donate.
  • Worms. With the appearance of parasites in the gastrointestinal tract, the process of assimilation of nutrients in the intestine is significantly reduced. Including iron, which is necessary for the sufficient formation of hemoglobin. For this reason, anemia may occur in a child.
  • Anemia is a common occurrence during pregnancy, since not only the mother, but also the unborn child needs iron. The need for iron doubles.
  • Reducing the life span of red blood cells in the body. Normally, red cells circulate in the blood for about 120 days and then decay. With autoimmune diseases, hereditary disorders and infectious diseases, red blood cells live for a shorter period and decay ahead of time.
  • Connective tissue diseases. These diseases include polyarteritis nodosa, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Horton’s disease and others.
  • Chronic infectious diseases such as: lung abscess, tuberculosis, bacterial endocarditis, brucellosis, bronchial diseases, pyelonephritis, osteomyelitis and others.

Symptoms of anemia

Anemia may occur without severe manifestations, but the following symptoms may be an alarming signal:

  • extreme fatigue and weakness, dizziness, possible fainting;
  • memory impairment and scattered attention, low mental activity;
  • there is shortness of breath and rapid pulse;
  • periodic whistling in the ears;
  • loss of appetite, sleep disturbance and insomnia;
  • pale skin and lips, may be bluish, blue circles under the eyes;
  • in the elderly, an attack of angina pectoris, aching pain in the heart area may occur;
  • mood swings and depression.

Some types of anemia may have specific symptoms. With iron deficiency anemia, there may be a need to eat chalk or earth, the nails become concave, the lips and tongue crack, the corners of the mouth become inflamed and cannot be treated. In some cases, gastritis, disorders of the urinary system may occur.

Pernicious anemia is manifested by such characteristic symptoms as: a feeling of numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, deterioration in thought processes and academic performance, memory impairment, gait may become unsteady.

In hemolytic anemia, congenital or acquired, jaundice sets in as the spleen kills defective red blood cells in large numbers. Splenomegaly may occur, in which the spleen enlarges due to a special reaction. The spleen destroys red blood cells in large numbers, so it increases significantly in size. With this form of anemia, urine changes color and becomes like dark beer, since when red blood cells are destroyed, bilirubin enters the blood in large quantities, which is excreted from the body along with urine.

Treatment of anemia

Treatment of anemia depends on the form of the disease and its causes. This includes iron and vitamin supplements, good nutrition, and, in some cases, blood transfusions. Self-treatment of anemia is prohibited, drugs must be prescribed by a doctor according to a blood test. With iron deficiency anemia, drugs with a high iron content are prescribed, which must be taken for four months. The patient must strictly adhere to a diet that includes meat, vegetables and freshly squeezed juices. Most iron is found in beef tongue and pork meat, iron from vegetables is practically not absorbed by the body.

In severe anemia, iron is given intravenously. With the diagnosis of pernicious anemia, the drug cyanocobalamin, vitamin B12 is prescribed. The treatment of hemolytic anemia includes taking glucocorticosteroids, and in severe cases, the spleen is removed. With heavy bleeding, it must be stopped. In chronic blood loss, treatment is prescribed to eliminate the causes of the disease.

In some cases, anemia is treated with a blood transfusion, in severe conditions of the patient: profuse blood loss, tumor formation and hereditary diseases. Aplastic anemia involves surgery and bone marrow transplantation.

Prevention of anemia

Measures to prevent anemia include good nutrition, vitamin B12 intake, strengthening the general condition of the body. Include foods rich in iron and folic acid in your diet. Iron is found in large quantities in animal protein, so you need to eat a sufficient amount of meat. Do not get carried away with diets and weight loss, as this can lead to anemia. It is necessary to maintain the normal condition of the gastrointestinal tract so that food is well absorbed by the body.

Prevention of anemia includes taking vitamin B12 and folic acid, since these substances play an important role in the formation of red blood cells. Among folk remedies, tinctures from dandelion plants, young nettles, and yarrow herbs are distinguished. You can also make fresh salads with the addition of vegetable oil from them. In order for iron to be well absorbed by the body, it is necessary to include foods containing folic acid and vitamin C in the diet. From them you can prepare teas and tinctures, use fresh.