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Facts About Iron Deficiency Anemia

Home > Health > Facts About Iron Deficiency Anemia

WP – Jan-Dec 2002Written by Dr. Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa, DOST   

 

Anemia Iron Deficient

 

Facts about iron deficiency anemia: a dreading micronutrient deficiency Iron deficiency anemia is a condition of the body when the hemoglobin level which is the red coloring of the blood, is below normal level. This happens when almost all the stored iron or ferritin has already been used up because of lack of iron intake from foods or iron SUPPLEMENTS.

 

What is iron? Iron is a very important nutrient needed in the formation of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Of the 3-5 grams of iron present in the body, more than half of it is present in hemoglobin and the rest is stored in the liver, spleen, bone marrow and muscles.

 

What is hemoglobin? Hemoglobin gives the red color of the blood. It transports oxygen to the different parts of the body. Oxygen is needed in the production of energy needed to do work.

 

What is iron deficiency (ID)? Iron deficiency is a condition of the body when the iron stores in the liver (called ferritin) is below normal level (which is < 20 micrograms per liter of blood).

 

What is ferritin? Ferritin is the form of iron deposited in the liver whenever there is an excess amount of iron taken in from foods and/or iron tablets/syrup. This iron store can be used by the body to maintain the normal level of hemoglobin.

 

What is iron deficiency anemia (IDA)? Iron deficiency anemia is a condition of the body when the hemoglobin level, the red coloring of the blood is below normal level which is < 120 grams per liter of blood. This happens when almost all the stored iron (ferritin) has already been used up because of lack of iron intake from foods or iron supplements.

 

Anemia Iron Rich Food

 

How do you know that a person is suffering from IDA?
A person is suffering from IDA if he is experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Body weakness
  • Easily gets tired
  • Feels dizzy
  • Has poor appetite
  • Finds difficulty in getting to sleep

If the IDA is prolonged and becomes severe, the person will have the following signs:

  • Pale skin
  • Pale conjunctiva
  • Pale palm/nailbed
  • Pale buccal mucosa (inner portion of the lower lip)

 

What are the causes of IDA? A person can suffer from IDA because of the following conditions/factors:

  • Increased need of iron by the body during pregnancy, lactation, growth
  • Inadequate or not enough intake of iron from foods
  • Increased blood loss due to parasitism, menstruation and child delivery
  • Poor absorption of iron

 

Who are the most affected groups that could suffer from IDA?

  • Infants
  • pregnant women
  • lactating women
  • Preschoolers
  • Adolescents
  • elderly

 

How serious is the problem of IDA in our country? The National Nutrition Survey (1998) conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology revealed that the following groups are anemic or suffering from IDA:

  • 5 to 6 out of 10 infants aged 6 months to less than 1 year
  • 3 out of 10 children aged 1 to 5 years
  • 3 out of 10 young children aged 6 to 12 years
  • 3 out of 10 teenagers aged 13 to 19 years
  • 2 to 3 out of 10 adults aged 20 to 59
  • 3 to 4 out of 10 older persons aged 60 years and over
    5 out of 10 pregnant women
  • 4 to 5 out of 10 lactating women

 

What will happen if a person is suffering from IDA?

During pregnancy

  • Inadequate pregnancy weight gain
  • High possibility of: delivering preterm infants, miscarriages, abortions, low birth weight babies

During lactation

  • Low iron content of breastmilk
  • Hiher vulnerability to sickness

In children: 

  • poor concentration
  • slow learner
  • long term effects on mental and motor function
  • poor growth
  • easily get sick

In Adults:

  • cannot work well (longer periods)
  • easily get tired

In adolescents:

  • delayed start of menstruation
  • slower tempo of growth
  • easily get sick