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The most common cause of anemia is a lack of iron. This is called iron deficiency. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body. Most of your body’s iron is stored in hemoglobin.
Iron-deficiency anemia may be caused by the following:
People who have a greater need for iron are at risk for this condition. This includes:
Each person’s symptoms will very. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia may look like other blood conditions or health problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider may think you have iron-deficiency anemia based on your symptoms and a complete medical history and physical exam. This condition is usually found through a blood test that measures the amount of hemoglobin present, and the amount of iron in your blood. Other tests may include:
Your healthcare provider will create a care plan based on:
Treatment may include:
Eating a diet with iron-rich foods can help. Good sources of iron include:
Iron supplements can be taken over a few months to increase iron levels in your blood. These supplements can irritate your stomach and discolor bowel movements. Take them on an empty stomach or with orange juice. This can help increase iron absorption. Supplements are much more effective than dietary changes alone.
This may include having an upper endoscopy or colonoscopy.
The best way to prevent iron-deficiency anemia is to eat a well-balanced diet that includes iron-rich foods. Talk with your provider about taking an iron supplement if you or your child:
Iron-deficiency may be short-term (temporary). But if you have heavy monthly periods or other risk factors, you may need to address this throughout your life. Eat a well-balanced diet that includes iron-rich foods. Also talk with your provider about taking an iron supplement. Be sure to address any underlying blood loss or condition that may cause your anemia.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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