Iron deficiency anaemia(IDA) is a type of anaemia that affects millions worldwide. More than 2 billion people suffer in some way from this nutrient deficiency.

Iron deficiency anaemia can cause significant physical and mental health issues if not detected and treated promptly. Fortunately, early detection makes diagnosis and treatment accessible. 

Consider using a rapid home testing kit if you suspect or are at risk of a certain condition. They offer accurate and quick results from home, avoiding the need for a visit to the doctor.

What Is Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IDA)?

Iron Deficiency Anaemia, or IDA, is when the body lacks sufficient iron to produce red blood cells. Our body needs iron to produce haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen. Inadequate production of haemoglobin can occur due to insufficient iron in the body. This can cause a deficiency of oxygen in the organs and tissues. This condition can cause fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and even heart palpitations. IDA is prevalent worldwide, and women, especially pregnant women, are at high risk of developing it. 

Causes OF Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Several factors affect the body’s ability to produce or absorb iron, causing IDA. Some common causes include:

  • Inadequate iron intake. Your chances of getting IDA may increase if you don’t eat iron-rich foods, such as red meat, poultry, fish, and leafy green vegetables.
  • Blood loss. Chronic blood loss due to heavy menstrual periods, gastrointestinal bleeding, or other conditions can deplete iron stores in the body and lead to IDA.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding. Pregnant women need more iron to help the growth and development of the fetus, and breastfeeding can deplete iron stores in the body.
  • Infancy and early childhood. Infants and young children risk IDA because they require large amounts of iron for growth and development and may not get enough through their diet.
  • Increased iron demand. The body may require more iron than usual during periods of rapid growth, such as infancy, childhood, and pregnancy. IDA can result if the body’s insufficient iron stores meet this demand.
  • Poor iron absorption. Diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and gastric bypass surgery can hinder the body’s ability to absorb iron from food, ultimately resulting in iron deficiency anaemia.
  • Vegetarian or vegan diet. Vegetarians or those who are on a vegan diet may be more likely to develop IDA if they do not plan their diet carefully to ensure they get enough iron.

If you risk developing IDA, speaking to a healthcare provider for advice on maintaining good health is crucial. Treatment may involve increasing iron intake through dietary changes and supplements and addressing any underlying medical conditions contributing to the deficiency.

Signs And Symptoms 

Iron deficiency anaemia or IDA can cause a range of signs and symptoms, varying in severity depending on the extent of the deficiency. Some common signs and symptoms of IDA include:

  • Fatigue and weakness. One of the common signs of IDA is a feeling of extreme tiredness and weakness, which can make it challenging to carry out everyday activities.
  • Shortness of breath. IDA can affect the body’s ability to transport oxygen to the lungs and other organs, leading to shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
  • Headaches and dizziness. Inadequate or less oxygen supply to the brain can lead to feelings of lightheadedness and headaches.
  • Pale skin and brittle nails. Iron deficiency can cause changes in the appearance of the skin, including paleness and dryness. It can also cause nails to become brittle and break easily.
  • Irregular heartbeat. In severe cases, IDA can cause an irregular heartbeat, leading to complications if left untreated.
  • Pica. Some people with IDA may experience a craving for non-food items, such as ice, dirt or paper.

If you have any signs and symptoms, you must speak to a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment. Changes to diet and iron supplements can usually manage IDA, but in some cases, further investigation may be necessary to identify and address the root cause. 

Diagnosis & Tests To Diagnose Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Iron deficiency anaemia is diagnosed through various tests that help determine the levels of iron and haemoglobin in the body. Here are some common diagnostic tests to identify IDA:

  • Complete blood count (CBC). This test counts the number and types of cells in the blood, including red blood cells(RBC), white blood cells(WBC), and platelets. The CBC may show a decrease in red blood cells and haemoglobin levels in IDA.
  • Iron studies. A series of blood tests measure various markers of iron levels in the body, such as serum iron, ferritin, transferrin, and total iron-binding capacity. These tests can help determine whether the body is deficient in iron and the severity of the deficiency.
  • Ferritin test. Ferritin is a protein that holds iron in the body, and a ferritin test measures the level of this protein in the blood. Low levels of ferritin can indicate IDA. You can use ferritin rapid test kits to check ferritin levels initially at home.
  • Stool test. This may be used to check for signs of gastrointestinal bleeding, which can cause IDA.
  • Endoscopy or colonoscopy. If gastrointestinal bleeding is suspected, an endoscopy or colonoscopy may be recommended to visualise the inside of the digestive tract and identify the source of bleeding.
  • Home rapid test kits. Some home test kits can test for IDA using a small blood sample taken from a fingertip. These tests measure the haemoglobin levels in the blood and can provide results within a few minutes. Remember that these tests are helpful for initial screening but are less precise than laboratory tests. Therefore, please do not rely solely on them for diagnosis. 

Suppose you are experiencing IDA symptoms or at risk of developing the condition. In that case, speaking to a doctor to determine the appropriate diagnostic tests and receive proper treatment is vital.

Treatment Options For Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Increasing the body’s iron levels can treat iron deficiency anaemia. Experts use supplementation and dietary changes to improve iron levels. The treatment plan for IDA depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Iron supplements. Iron supplements are the most usual treatment for IDA. They are available in different forms, like injections, capsules, liquids and tablets. Iron supplements are usually taken for several months to replenish the body’s iron stores.
  • Dietary changes. Eating an iron-rich diet can also help treat IDA. Foods such as red meat, lentils, spinach, poultry, fish, beans, and fortified cereals are good sources of iron. Vitamin C-rich foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits can help the body absorb iron better.
  • Blood transfusion. In severe cases of IDA, a blood transfusion may be necessary to restore the body’s iron levels quickly. This is usually reserved for ineffective iron supplementation and dietary changes.
  • Treating underlying conditions. If IDA is caused by an underlying condition, such as a bleeding ulcer or heavy menstrual bleeding, treating the underlying disease can help to resolve the anaemia.

Consulting a doctor to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for IDA is essential. They can also monitor iron levels and adjust treatment to manage the condition appropriately. With proper treatment, most people with IDA can fully recover and regain their energy and vitality.

Final Thoughts

Iron deficiency anaemia is a common disorder with severe consequences if left untreated. Fortunately, it is easily diagnosed with a simple blood test and can be treated with iron supplements and dietary changes. 

However, if you are experiencing symptoms of IDA or are at a higher risk of developing the condition, having a home rapid testing kit on hand may be helpful. Buy a rapid test kit for early detection of iron deficiency.


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