Iron Deficiency Anemia

Description of Iron Deficiency Anemia

The name “anemia” comes from Greek and can be translated as “without blood”. So, if you have anemia, there's something wrong with your blood. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. It is estimated that 20% of women and 3% of men are anemic. Women are more inclined to this type of anemia, since they have smaller stores of iron in their bodies. This fact, combined with menstrual bleeding exposes them to a greater risk of iron deficiency anemia.

As the name implies, the condition is a result of insufficient iron in the body. You probably didn't know this, but iron plays a very important role in the functioning of your body. It is the essential element of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to all our tissues and organs. Since every single cell in your body depends on oxygen for survival, you cannot function properly without iron.

Normally, you get your iron from food and from recycling of iron in your old blood cells. Anemia can develop over time after the body's stores of iron have been depleted. Here are several possible causes of iron deficiency anemia:


Initially, the symptoms of anemia are so mild that you probably won't be unable to detect them. If the condition is not treated, however, the symptoms will become increasingly stronger.

Most common symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are:

Often, patients with anemia suffer from other, accompanying symptoms. These may include poor appetite, inflammation or soreness of the tongue, unusual food cravings, brittle nails and restless leg syndrome (uncomfortable feelings and tingling in the legs that is increased with movement).

Tests & Diagnosis

Diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia is made mainly through blood tests. These tests examine several indicators of anemia, which are:

Your doctor may also prescribe additional tests, which can help determine the possible underlying cause of anemia and rule out possible internal sources of bleeding.


Once your body becomes deficient in iron to the point of anemia, you will have to take iron supplements (usually for several months or longer). Foods, rich in iron, will not suffice to build back your iron reserves.

Most often doctors prescribe iron tablets (ferrous sulfate). Even though iron supplements are best absorbed on an empty stomach, most people take them with food as they tend to irritate the stomach (milk and antacids must be avoided as they interfere with the absorption of the iron). Vitamin C, on the other hand, increases absorption and is a key element in the production of hemoglobin.

If iron deficiency is caused by poor diet, supplements and better eating habits should cure the condition. If this doesn't happen, the underlying cause of anemia should be identified and treated. Here, treatment will, of course, depend on the cause. It may include oral contraceptives (to lighten menstrual flow), medications for peptic ulcers or even surgery if other sources of internal bleeding are identified.


If you think that your tiredness is caused by iron deficiency anemia, then you know what to do about it. But you should be aware, that there are many other possible medical causes of tiredness. They include:


The most important thing that you should remember is that in most cases tiredness is not a result of any medical condition. In fact, the most common cause of tiredness is our lifestyle - the way we eat, sleep, work and spend our free time.

To find out how to combat all the non-medical causes of tiredness, look into the End Tiredness Program. There you will discover the most likely causes of tiredness and learn how you can completely eliminate tiredness from your life.