Iron-deficiency anaemia results from low levels of iron in the bloodstream. Iron is a key element of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells responsible for delivering oxygen to the body's organs.

Causes of Iron-Deficiency Anaemia

  • Inefficient iron absorption by the digestive tract.
  • Excessive bleeding over an extended period, including menstrual bleeding.
  • Consumption of foods that hinder the body's capability to absorb iron.
  • Increased iron requirements, commonly observed in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Symptoms to Look Out For

  • Feeling of exhaustion, dizziness, or light-headedness, especially upon standing up.
  • Quick to tire.
  • Noticeable paleness or a loss of facial colour.

Treatment Options

Treatment typically involves the prescription of supplements such as iron pills or multivitamins. Various types of iron exist; ferrous forms are absorbed more easily compared to ferric forms. Ferrous sulfate is a commonly used and cost-effective option.

To enhance absorption, some iron supplements are fortified with vitamin C. There are also specialised iron products designed to minimise digestive irritation; however, these are absorbed more slowly into the system.

Preventative Measures

  • It's crucial to eliminate any underlying causes of abnormal bleeding, including but not limited to, colon polyps and digestive tract ulcers.

Foods Rich in Iron

  • Beef liver.
  • Wheat germ.
  • Shellfish like oysters.
  • Dried fruits.
  • Iron-fortified cereals.
  • Chicken eggs.

Important Points to Consider

  • Be cautious of foods that may inhibit iron absorption.
  • Note the distinction between the iron content in food and the amount that your body can actually absorb.
  • Don't be alarmed if iron supplements lead to a change in stool colour to dark green or black; it’s a common side effect.
  • Potential side effects of iron supplements may include bloating, nausea, constipation, and diarrhoea.