Iron Deficiency Test

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Last updated on October 22nd, 2019 at 04:07 pm

Iron Deficiency Test

The body needs certain nutrients to function correctly. Iron is one of these nutrients that play a critical role in survival. Iron is a type of mineral that is needed in small amounts and plays a critical function in the development of red blood cells. The main function of iron is to assist with the transport of oxygen that is found within hemoglobin, which is part of red blood cells. The oxygen is carried throughout the body and, in turn, allow cells in various tissue to produce energy and perform specific functions. Iron is also essential in the removal of carbon dioxide from the human body.

It is generally advised that an adult male obtain between eight and 11mg of iron per day, and the recommended dosage for women ranges from 15mg to 18mg, depending on age. While iron is readily available in many foods, including vegetables and even nuts, iron deficiency is something that people need to be wary of.

Iron is an important mineral that helps to carry oxygen in the blood and ensures cells can produce adequate energy for proper function. A deficiency in this mineral can be harmful and lead to potentially life-threatening complications when not detected and treated early on.

What Is An Iron Deficiency?

Iron deficiency is a term that refers to a condition where there is too little of this mineral in the body. Insufficient iron means the functions in the body that relies on the presence of iron would not be able to function properly, and this can lead to a number of potential complications. The lack of iron means oxygen in hemoglobin cannot be effectively carried through the body to cells – and this eventually leads to a reduced level of energy. Since cells are unable to produce energy, this does not only lead to fatigue but also make these cells less effective.

Several studies have been conducted to provide data on the prevalence of iron deficiency. In one study, the prevalence of anemia, a complication that develops when iron levels are insufficient, was found in 50% of school-aged adolescent girls that were part of the study. Among these 3.3% had severe anemia.

Another study, conducted among the general populations in Germany, Spain, Belgium, and Italy, found iron deficiency to affect between 7.2 to 13.96 per 1000 individuals in the country. The study also found that women were more likely to suffer from iron deficiency. Certain conditions were also found to increase the risk of the condition, including gastrointestinal diseases, as well as the frequent use of antacids and aspirin.

Symptoms Of An Iron Deficiency

Since iron plays a critical role in various cellular functions in the human body, a deficiency in this mineral can be exceptionally harmful. Individuals need to understand the potential symptoms that they might experience if their iron levels drop too low, as this may signal the development of anemia. When symptoms are identified early on, and treatment is provided to the patient, then there is a lower risk of experiencing some of the more life-threatening complications that may occur when iron levels drop dangerously low.

Symptoms that patients need to be wary of, which may indicate a low level of iron in their body, include:

  • Extreme fatigue is one of the most common symptoms, as oxygen is not transported effectively to assist with energy production
  • Weakness also tend to accompany the fatigue
  • The skin tends to become pale
  • Many people experience chest pain
  • Shortness of breath is also common, as well as a fast heartbeat
  • The feet and hands of the patient will generally be cold
  • Headache and dizziness
  • The nails become brittle
  • The tongue becomes sore and sometimes inflamed

People with an iron deficiency will generally also have a poor appetite. This is especially a problem in children, as well as infants. Additionally, many people who have iron levels that are too low tend to experience cravings for starch, dirt, ice, and other substances that are non-nutritive.

Why Get Tested For Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, a condition where there are not enough red blood cells in the body to ensure oxygen can be carried toward body tissues. This condition can lead to many complications and, in some cases, can become life-threatening.

While symptoms of iron deficiency have been established, a patient should not diagnose themselves with anemia and take action from home. When there is a significant lack of iron in the blood, special treatment would be required in order to ensure iron levels can be increased to an appropriate level. Supplements that can be taken at home would usually not provide an appropriate rise in iron levels.

When a patient fails to get tested for an iron deficiency when the above-mentioned symptoms appear, then they are at risk of facing several complications associated with anemia.

A deficiency in iron and, more importantly, the development of anemia can lead to a higher risk of infections. There is also a risk of heart-related problems developing, as the heart and other tissues in the body depend on adequate transportation of oxygen for optimal functioning.

Iron deficiency has also been linked to depression.

Pregnant women should also ensure they get tested if they have any signs of iron deficiency, as it has been found that the development of anemia can cause several problems with pregnancy. Potential complications that may occur with anemia during pregnancy include low birth weight, as well as preterm delivery.

It is also important to note that iron deficiency and anemia in children can cause delays in cognitive development, as well as in motor skills. This can cause child difficulties in learning. Thus, testing for anemia and iron deficiency in children with these symptoms should also be a priority for the parents.

Patients should take notice of symptoms associated with iron deficiency, and ensure they consult with a doctor for testing.

References

https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/iron

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5620749/

https://www.medscape.com/answers/202333-153105/what-is-the-global-prevalence-of-iron-deficiency-anemia

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/iron-deficiency-anemia

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