FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION

Iron deficiency is defined as a decrease in the count of red blood cells or less than normal quantity of haemoglobin in the blood. As a result, the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood decreases if a person is suffering from iron deficiency.

Iron deficiency may go undetermined for years and hence, symptoms can be minor or vague depending on the underlying causes of the disease. In severe cases, patient may develop symptoms like weakness, headache, pallor, chest pain, irritability, low body temperature, rapid or irregular heart beat, dizziness, fatigue,inability to do regular work and shortness of breath etc.

The treatment of iron deficiency revolves around two goals — first, to get red blood cells and haemoglobin count back to normal so that body can get enough oxygen; second, to treat the underlying causes of the disease. The treatment basically depends on underlying causes and doctor prescribes iron and folic acid supplements and advice to include iron rich food in diet. In severe cases, blood transfusion and surgery may also be needed. In all the treatment options, only a Doctor's advice must be followed.

Consult the doctor if you suffer from any of the symptoms of iron deficiency, as described earlier. The doctor will ask for a blood test and also do physical exam. He will ask for the foods you eat, your family health history and may also suggest other tests to confirm the underlying causes.

Iron deficiency, in some cases, may be life-threatening if goes undiagnosed and untreated. The decreased supply of oxygen can damage organs while making the heart to work harder to make up for the low blood cell count or haemoglobin. This extra work can also lead to heart failure. Therefore, timely advice from a doctor must be taken.

Too much iron building in the body may lead to a condition called hemochromatosis. The extra iron can damage major organs such as liver, pancreas and heart. Weight loss, fatigue, early menopause, joint pains, impotence, arthritis, liver, heart and pancreatic diseases can appear as the symptoms of Iron overload. For more information, consult your doctor.

Although the preventive measures for iron deficiency vary with the underlying causes, taking diet rich in iron and Vitamin B12 can help combat the disease. Liver, lentils, tofu, oysters, fish, red meat, green leafy vegetables etc. help increase body's iron store. In addition, Vitamin C rich food such as orange juice, broccoli, and other fruits can be taken with iron rich diet to facilitate more iron absorption in the body. Apart from this, talking with your general physician will help prevent the disease.

The recommended daily allowances of iron for people of different age groups is — Non-pregnant women (aged 19 to 50) need 21 mg of iron daily; pregnant women: 35mg, breast-feeding women: 25mg; and Men: 17 mg and infants (6-12m) need 5mg.

Pregnant women need twice as much iron as compared to non pregnant women because the growing foetus needs iron for its growth and development.Normally a pregnant woman needs 35mg of iron every day during pregnancy. For more information, consult your doctor.

It might if you are still getting your period while taking MHT. Your body is still losing iron through the blood loss and hence, you need to take iron rich diet & consult your doctor in order to make up the losses.

You can alter your daily iron intake by making intelligent food choices. Include iron rich food such as lentils and beans, dried fruits, nuts, green leafy vegetables and Vitamin C rich food to enhance iron absorption. In fact eating iron rich food with Vitamin C will accelerate the iron absorbing capacity of the body.

It may on certain occasions. Women on contraceptive pills may have less bleeding during periods and hence, may have low risk of iron deficiency. On the other hand, some women using intrauterine device (IUD), may experience more bleeding due to which there is Iron loss from the body and hence higher risk of iron deficiency. For more information, consult your doctor.

Yes. Patients who have suffered major blood loss and have developed iron deficiency have to consider blood transfusion. But there are several risks involved and hence, patients undergoing transfusion need to talk to the doctor on various aspects.

If iron deficiency is caused by only iron-deficiency then consuming iron-rich food such as nuts, dried fruits, green leafy vegetables etc. can help combat the disease. But if the underlying cause is something else then consulting a doctor is the only option.

Though, pallor is common during iron deficiency, it alone can never confirm the onset of the disease. There are various other health disorders too which develop pallor as a symptom.

No. There are several factors which can contribute to the development of iron deficiency. For instance, genetic reasons (like sickle cell iron deficiency), blood disorders (blood cancer), Vitamin B12 deficiency etc. can cause iron deficiency.

Iron deficiency develops signs like tiredness and fatigue in early to mild stages. These are considered general health disorders by the people and hence, ignored for longer by taking rest and other means. Therefore, it goes unnoticed until it becomes severe.

Yes, certainly. Fatal accidents with major blood loss, genetic defects, gastrointestinal diseases, Crohn's disease or surgery etc. can be the underlying causes of iron deficiency.

Yes, Iron deficiency can be improved at home. Other types of iron deficiency need expert's handling for its eradication. Iron-deficiency may be treated by taking lots of green vegetables, honey and banana together, apple and tomato juice together and dried fruits.

It can, if the disease is caused by dietary deficiencies. Feeding on milk or only protein rich food can cause depletion of iron. Iron-deficiency can be cured by incorporating green vegetables and other iron rich food, vitamin C and B12 rich foods in daily diet plan.

There are different types of iron deficiency and some are also associated genetically. Sickle cell iron deficiency and Thalassemia are genetically characterised forms of iron deficiency and may also prove life-threatening in severe conditions.

Iron deficiency is characterised by the low production of red blood cells and low haemoglobin count. Hb is responsible for carrying oxygen in the body. But in iron deficiency, when Hb count is low, the body gets less oxygen causing tiredness.

Children, elderly, pre-menopausal women, adolescent girls and women of child bearing age are at great risk of developing iron deficiency. The condition is more common in women than men.

Even if you are eating healthy and don't suffer any blood loss, you may develop iron deficiency. The disease may develop due to poor absorption of iron in the body and also due to stress. Therefore, taking iron rich diet with Vitamin C rich food should be practiced to prevent iron deficiency.

It may be but not specifically. Pica is generally considered a sign of iron deficiency but it may also arise due to other disorders and even in normal levels of haemoglobin. However, it is recommended to visit the physician if you experience this symptom.

Iron deficiency is a very common health disorder during pregnancy. It makes the pregnant women tired and lethargic and reduces the supply of oxygen to the foetus. It increases maternal morbidity, foetal and neonatal mortality, birth defects and chances of other disorders in both mother and the child.

Yes it may. Certain viral diseases can destroy red blood cells leading to iron deficiency and lack of oxygen in the body. The symptoms are pretty much the same as caused by iron deficiency and hence, patients must consult a physician as soon as possible.

Generally iron deficiency is associated with poor dietary intake and deficiency of iron and Vitamin B12. Society must ensure right nutrition is provided to women, pregnant or of child bearing age, to eradicate the disease completely.

It depends on the severity of the disease, underlying causes and the type of iron deficiency. Mild to moderate iron-deficiency takes only a few weeks if you are taking nutritious diet and medication as advised by the doctor. On the other hand, iron deficiency due to genetic defects may not be cured.

Disclaimer