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Iron Deficiency Anemia


Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the body does not have enough iron. It can cause weakness, pale skin, and general tiredness.

The body needs iron to produce new red blood cells. Low iron levels can be caused by:

  • Bleeding from conditions such as ulcers, heavy menstrual periods, or cancer.
  • Poor absorption of iron by the body.
  • Lack of iron in the diet or not enough iron in the diet during times of growth, such as pregnancy, early childhood, and the teen years.

Iron deficiency anemia is usually diagnosed using blood tests, but the cause is usually found when the doctor is taking a medical history or performing a colonoscopy. Treatment often includes making diet changes, taking iron supplements, and treating other conditions or problems that may be causing iron deficiency. In rare cases, blood transfusions may be needed.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerBrian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
Last RevisedApril 8, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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