Anemia is a low level of healthy red blood cells (RBC). RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When red blood cells are low the body does not get enough oxygen. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue, pale skin, or irregular heartbeat.
Iron is needed to build healthy RBCs. Iron-deficiency anemia is caused by low levels of iron in the body.
Iron makes a critical component of red blood cells.
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Factors that play a role include:
These factors increase your chance of developing this condition. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
While most people with mild anemia have no symptoms, when present, symptoms may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.
Tests may include:
Treatments may include:
Iron can be taken as a supplement or as part of a multivitamin. Iron comes in many "salt" forms. Ferrous salts are better absorbed than ferric salts. Ferrous sulfate is the cheapest and most commonly used iron salt. Slow-release or coated products may cause less stomach problems. However, they may not be absorbed as well. Some products contain vitamin C to improve absorption. Talk to your doctor, though, because your iron level could get too high.
Your doctor may recommend that you feed your baby iron-fortified cereal.
To help reduce you or your child's chances of getting this condition, take the following steps:
Last reviewed September 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.