In the United States, iron deficiency anemia strikes 10% of women of childbearing age. By comparison, this type of anemia only affects 1% of men under the age of 50 years. The exceptional physicians at Illinois Gastroenterology Group have helped many patients regain their energy and vitality by accurately diagnosing iron deficiency anemia and treating the underlying cause. If you struggle with fatigue, schedule an appointment online or call one of the offices in Oak Lawn, Oakbrook Terrace, and Palos Heights, Illinois.
Iron deficiency anemia develops when your body doesn’t have the iron it needs to produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells, where it carries oxygen to tissues throughout your body. Without hemoglobin, your body lacks energy-producing oxygen.
You may develop iron deficiency anemia if you don’t get enough iron in your diet or you don’t absorb all the iron you consume. Pregnant women frequently have iron deficiency anemia.
However, the top cause is bleeding that makes you lose red blood cells faster than your body replaces them. Women with heavy menstrual periods have a high risk of iron deficiency anemia.
Slow, chronic blood loss also leads to iron deficiency anemia. Conditions that cause persistent bleeding include peptic ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, colon polyps, a hiatal hernia, and colorectal cancer
At the start of iron deficiency anemia, your symptoms may be too mild to notice. As your iron deficiency gets worse, you’ll experience symptoms such as:
In severe cases, you may have chest pain or an irregular heartbeat. Some patients develop a condition called pica, which causes cravings for unusual items like ice, dirt, and paper.
After reviewing your medical and menstrual history, and talking with you about your symptoms and diet, your doctor at Illinois Gastroenterology Group performs a thorough physical examination. You’ll also have blood tests to determine your iron levels and rule out other problems potentially causing your symptoms.
You may have an endoscopy to look for bleeding from conditions such as an ulcer or hiatal hernia. Some patients need a colonoscopy to rule out bleeding problems in their colon. Women with heavy menstrual periods may have a pelvic ultrasound to look for the source of their bleeding.
Treatment for iron deficiency anemia depends on the underlying cause of the problem. If your blood loss is from a digestive system problem or heavy menstrual periods, your Illinois Gastroenterology Group doctor prescribes treatment to deal with the specific problem.
Patients who don’t get enough iron typically need iron supplements. Your doctor at Illinois Gastroenterology Group may also recommend dietary changes to improve the amount of iron you consume, as well as the amount absorbed from your small intestine.
If you’re fatigued throughout the day, call Illinois Gastroenterology Group or schedule an appointment online.