Iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the body does not have enough iron. It can cause weakness, pale skin, and general tiredness.

The body needs iron to produce new red blood cells. Low iron levels can be caused by:

  • Bleeding from conditions such as ulcers, heavy menstrual periods, or cancer.
  • Poor absorption of iron by the body.
  • Lack of iron in the diet or not enough iron in the diet during times of growth, such as pregnancy, early childhood, and the teen years.

Iron deficiency anemia is usually diagnosed using blood tests, but the cause is usually found when the doctor is taking a medical history or performing a colonoscopy. Treatment often includes making diet changes, taking iron supplements, and treating other conditions or problems that may be causing iron deficiency. In rare cases, blood transfusions may be needed.

Last Updated: April 24, 2009

Author: Robin Parks, MS

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Joseph O'Donnell, MD - Hematology/Oncology

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.