Around 10 million people in the U.S. have an iron deficiency, and around five million have iron deficiency-related anemia. There are many symptoms of reduced iron levels, though it is possible to have low levels of iron without being aware of it. Some of the most common signs of anemia include fatigue, feeling faint, having restless leg syndrome, and even pica (a compulsion to eat objects that are not normally part of the human diet). If you suspect you have an iron deficiency, it is important to see your doctor to have your levels checked. Through supplementation and a healthy diet, your symptoms can be reversed and you can feel more energetic.
Why Is Iron So Important?
Iron is a mineral that is vital for the synthesis of the proteins that transport oxygen in the blood (hemoglobin and myoglobin) and for the formation of iron-containing enzymes involved in electron transfer between molecules (a key function, since most of the energy used to fuel cell functions is in the form of high-energy electrons). Indeed, iron is responsible for a wide array of cellular functions, and in order for the body to maintain health, there needs to be a constant balance between iron uptake, transportation, storage and usage.
How Are Iron Deficiency And Anemia Detected And Treated?
If your doctor suspects anemia, they may conduct tests to look into your red blood cell size, red blood cell levels, and hemoglobin and ferritin levels. If your levels are low, they may recommend supplementation to boost iron and hemoglobin levels in your body. If your anemia is caused by poor nutrition, your doctor may recommend an iron-rich diet containing foods like green leafy vegetables, fortified foods, and beans and lentils. Of course, sometimes, anemia is not related to your diet at all. For instance, aplastic anemia can arise because of the exposure to specific toxins, while sickle cell anemia is inherited from parents. In the last two cases, iron supplements won’t help. Instead, alternative treatments such as stem cell therapy or transplants may be recommended.
Underlying Causes Of Anemia
Your doctor may recommend supplementation for a specific time frame, and ask to see you again for further tests to see if your levels have improved. If not, it may be that your anemia is due to internal bleeding or a problem with iron absorption. The problem may be something as unsuspected as a peptic ulcer. If this condition is present, the doctor will recommend antibiotics and other medications to stop the bleeding. Surgery can also be indicated for issues like bleeding fibroids or polyps. In very serious cases of anemia, a blood transfusion is sometimes prescribed as a ‘quick fix’.
Iron is vital for a plethora of functions – including that of transporting oxygen throughout the body and the transfer of energy. If your levels are low, you may notice that you feel fatigued. See your doctor if you suspect you might be anaemic or iron-deficient. Supplementation may be all that you need to feel your best once again.