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      Iron-Deficiency Anemia

      What is iron-deficiency anemia?

      The most common cause of anemia is iron deficiency. Iron is needed to form hemoglobin. Iron is mostly stored in the body in the hemoglobin. About 30 percent of iron is also stored as ferritin and hemosiderin in the bone marrow, spleen, and liver.

      What causes iron-deficiency anemia?

      Iron-deficiency anemia may be caused by the following:

          * diets low in iron
            Iron is obtained from foods in our diet, however, only 1 mg of iron is absorbed for every 10 to 20 mg of iron ingested. A person unable to have a balanced iron-rich diet may suffer from some degree of iron-deficiency anemia.
          * body changes
            An increased iron requirement and increased red blood cell production is required when the body is going through changes such as growth spurts in children and adolescents, or during pregnancy and lactation.
          * gastrointestinal tract abnormalities
            Malabsorption of iron is common after some forms of gastrointestinal surgeries. Most of the iron taken in by foods is absorbed in the upper small intestine. Any abnormalities in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract could alter iron absorption and result in iron-deficiency anemia.
          * blood loss
            Loss of blood can cause a decrease of iron and result in iron-deficiency anemia. Sources of blood loss may include GI bleeding, menstrual bleeding, or injury.

      Treatment for iron-deficiency anemia:

      Specific treatment for iron-deficiency anemia will be determined by your physician based on:

          * your age, overall health, and medical history
          * extent of the anemia
          * cause of the anemia
          * your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
          * expectations for the course of the anemia
          * your opinion or preference