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Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia
(IDA) is low levels of red blood cells and hemoglobin caused by a lack of iron in the blood. Iron helps make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is part of your red blood cell and helps carry oxygen to your body. The most common causes are blood loss and not enough iron in the foods you eat.
Common symptoms include the following:
- Weakness and tiredness
- Shortness of breath with activity
- Fast heartbeat or dizziness
- Headaches or trouble concentrating
- Pale skin
- Sore or swollen tongue and mouth
- Nails that break easily
- An urge to eat ice, paint, starch, or dirt
Call 911 for any of the following:
- You have shortness of breath, even when you rest.
Seek care immediately if:
- You have dark or bloody bowel movements.
- You are too dizzy to stand up.
- You have trouble swallowing because of the pain in your mouth and throat.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have heartburn, constipation, or diarrhea.
- You have nausea or are vomiting.
- You are dizzy or very tired.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Treatment for anemia
may include any of the following:
- Iron or folic acid supplements will help increase your red blood cell and hemoglobin levels.
- Bowel movement softeners may be needed if the iron supplements cause constipation.
Eat foods rich in iron and protein:
Nuts, meat, dark leafy green vegetables, and beans are high in iron and protein. Do not drink coffee, tea, or other liquids with caffeine. Limit milk to 2 cups a day. You may need to meet with a dietitian to create the right food plan for you.
Drink liquids as directed:
Liquids help prevent constipation. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.