Iron deficiency is the silent killer among girls and women in the most of the developed countries. In majority of cases, they develop iron deficiency due to lack of adequate nutrition such as diet rich in iron, Vitamin B12 and folic acid. Iron deficiency can also lead to various critical health disorders such as complications in pregnancy, heart disorders and even death.
It is generally characterized by decrease in total number of red blood cells or the availability of less than normal haemoglobin in the blood. Since it decreases the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, varying degree of iron deficiency can have a wide range of clinical consequences.
Major cause is the lack of iron in the body which leads to impaired production of RBCs. Other causes are deficiency of Vitamin B12 and folic acid which are also needed for new RBC synthesis. In addition, other medical conditions also lead to iron deficiency such as chronic kidney disease.
It leads to decrease in oxygen binding capacity of blood due to deformed red blood cells or impaired haemoglobin. By reducing the amount of oxygen in the body, it can lead to hypoxia in vital organs. Apart from this, it has also been a major cause of heart failure, strokes and kidney failure
It affects women more than men because women lose their customary share of blood every month due to menstruation and deficiency of iron makes them unable to match the losses.
Iron deficiency in pregnancy accounts for one-fifth of maternal death and low-birth weight babies. It also leads to postpartum complications and certain health disorders in new-born. Iron deficiency is a major health threat in rural areas in most of the developing countries.
It is hard to identify iron deficiency during mild stages because symptoms are not seen and can be diagnosed by medical examination. Tiredness is quiet normal during pregnancy therefore this symptom is generally ignored by pregnant women and even by their families. This is why, regular monitoring is required and recommended during pregnancy for early diagnosis of iron deficiency and its better treatment.
Effects are severe in severe conditions of iron deficiency often causing life-threatening condition. Weakness, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, pale skin, rapid heartbeat, cold hand and feet are common symptoms of iron deficiency.
Women with any of these symptoms must be taken for medical examination to prevent the deadly effect of iron deficiency.