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Iron-Deficiency Anaemia

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What is Iron-Deficiency Anaemia?

Anaemia normally happens when there is a reduced amount of haemoglobin in your red blood cells in Singapore. Your red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen all over your body. The lack of haemoglobbin means that not enough oxygen-rich blood is available, and this leads to anaemia.  

Iron-deficiency anaemia is the most common type of anaemia in the world. As its name suggests, it is anaemia caused by insufficient iron.

What causes Iron-Deficiency Anaemia?

Iron-deficiency can be caused by a number of things. These include:
  • Insufficient iron in diet: Having a diet that is low in iron can result in a shortage. Foods such as eggs, meat, and some dark green leafy vegetables contain high levels of iron. However, only 1mg of iron is absorbed for every 10-20mg of iron consumed, so balancing your iron intake might be a bit tricky.
  • Pregnancy: During pregnancy, your body needs even more iron than it normally does because it needs to create enough oxygen for the mother and baby.
  • Menstruation: Some women who suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding may also suffer from iron-deficiency anaemia due to the high loss of blood.
  • Internal bleeding: Some medical issues such as colon cancer, polyps in the digestive/gastrointestinal tract, or stomach ulcers can cause internal bleeding.
  • Unable to absorb iron: Certain medical conditions such as celiac disease may hinder or prevent your body from absorbing iron.

What are the common symptoms of Anaemia in Singapore?

Early symptoms of iron-deficiency anaemia are often ignored as they are relatively mild, however, as the iron in your body continues to decrease, your symptoms will become more obvious. The signs and symptoms of iron-deficiency anaemia are:
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Extreme fatigue or exhaustion
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Headaches
  • Brittle nails
  • Cravings to eat things with no nutritional value such as soil or chalk
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tingling feeling in feet
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Swollen or sore tongue
  • Fast or irregular heartbeats

Who is at risk of Iron-Deficiency Anaemia?

Iron-deficiency anaemia is a common condition that affects many people; however, these are some of the risk factors that might make a person more susceptible to it:

  • Women: Due to pregnancy or menstruation, women are more prone to anaemia than men.
  • Vegetarians: Vegetarians must be careful to consume enough iron-rich vegetables and fruits to make up for their lack of meat.
  • Infants and children: Extra iron is required to help children grow.
  • Frequent blood donors: Blood donation can cause a depletion in iron. If you frequently donate blood, remember to consume an iron-rich diet to replenish the iron you lose.

How is Iron-Deficiency Anaemia diagnosed?

The most common way that iron-defiency anaemia is diagnosed is through a blood test also known as a complete blood count (CBC). A CBC is able to measure the amount of red blood cells, white blood cells, haemoglobin, haematocrit (percent of blood volume made up of red blood cells), and platelets. 

Another way iron-deficiency anaemia is diagnosed is through a microscope – where drops of your blood are examined to identify the level of iron in your blood, the size and colour of your red blood cells, your ferritin level (low levels of ferritin indicates low iron storage), and your total iron-binding capacity. 

A colonoscopy or a gastroscopy can also be used to diagnose iron-deficiency anaemia particularly if internal bleeding is a suspected cause.

What are the treatment options for Iron-Deficiency Anaemia in Singapore?

There are many treatment options for iron-deficiency anaemia such as:

  • Iron supplements

 Iron pills can help to increase the iron levels in your body.

  • Diet

Consume a diet of iron-rich food such as dark leafy green vegetables, iron-fortified cereal, dried fruits, nuts, seafood, and red meat.

  • Surgery

Iif your iron-deficiency anaemia is caused by internal bleeding, surgery may be required to stop the bleeding.

Frequently asked questions

Is iron-deficiency anaemia serious?
It depends on the cause of it, but some complications can arise such as irregular heartbeats and pregnancy complications.
Does iron-deficiency anaemia affect appetite?
Iron-deficiency anaemia is associated with a decrease in appetite.

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    6A Napier Road, Annexe Block #05-35C Gleneagles Hospital
    Singapore 258500
    820 Thomson Road, #06-07 Mount Alvernia Medical Centre A Singapore 574623

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