Anemia - iron deficiency
Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Iron is an important building block for red blood cells.
When your body does not have enough iron, it will make fewer red blood cells or red blood cells that are too small. This is called iron deficiency anemia.
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common form of anemia.
Red blood cells bring oxygen to the body's tissues. Healthy red blood cells are made in your bone marrow. Red blood cells move through your body for 3 to 4 months. Parts of your body then remove old blood cells.
Iron is a key part of red blood cells. Without iron, the blood cannot carry oxygen effectively. Your body normally gets iron through your diet and by re-using iron from old red blood cells.
You get iron deficiency anemia when your body's iron stores run low. You can get iron deficiency if:
Iron loss can be due to bleeding. Common causes of bleeding are:
The body may not absorb enough iron in the diet due to:
You may not get enough iron in the diet if:
Mabry-Hernandez IR. Screening for iron deficiency anemia--including iron supplementation for children and pregnant women. Am Fam Physician. 2009 May 15;79(10):897-8.
Alleyne M, Horne MK, Miller JL. Individualized treatment for iron-deficiency anemia in adults. Am J Med. 2008;121:943-948.
Brittenham G. Disorders of Iron Metabolism: Iron Deficiency and Iron Overload. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Shattil SS, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 36.
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