Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Edited by Dr Claudia Pastides, 5th April 2019

Iron deficiency anaemia is a low number of red blood cells caused by a lack of iron.


Causes

The body uses iron to help form red blood cells. A low iron level will lead to red blood cells that cannot carry their oxygen transporting function out effectively.


Risk factors

  • Older age
  • Bleeding
  • Pregnancy
  • Malnutrition
  • Certain stomach or intestinal diseases that decrease iron absorption
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Bowel cancer


Typical Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Restless legs
    • Headaches
    • Painful tongue
    • Hair loss
    • Itchy skin


Common Treatment

  • Iron pills or medications to increase iron levels
  • Blood transfusion to increase blood cell levels
  • Specialist treatment or procedure


When to speak to a doctor

Iron deficiency anaemia can often be initially managed via a digital consultation. If the GP decides you need a face to face appointment, they will discuss what steps you can take next.

To speak to one of our Babylon GPs, download the app and create an account today.

It is important to speak urgently to a doctor if you have:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion or reduced consciousness


Prevention

Iron deficiency anaemia can be managed and prevented by eating a balanced diet


More information

NHS - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/iron-deficiency-anaemia/