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Anaemia is a condition where the amount of haemoglobin in the blood is below the normal level, or there are fewer red blood cells than normalHaving anaemia may make one feel exhausted.

There are  different types of anaemia and each one has a different cause. Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common type of the disease.

What causes anaemia?

Lack of iron is the most common cause of iron deficiency anaemia. The following conditions may also lead to a lack of iron resulting in iron deficiency anaemia:

  • Pregnancy or childhood growth spurts
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Poor absorption of iron caused by certain diseases e.g. coeliac disease
  • Bleeding from the intestines
  • Poor diet

Symptoms

Common symptoms are due to the reduced amount of oxygen in the body.

  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia

Treatment

The treatment for iron deficiency anaemia involves taking iron supplements to boost the low levels of iron in the body.

If you or your child develops signs and symptoms that suggest iron deficiency anemia, your are adviced to see your doctor. Iron deficiency anaemia isn’t something to self-diagnose or treat.

See your doctor for a diagnosis, rather than take iron supplements on your own.

How to prevent anaemia

You may be able to prevent iron deficiency anaemia by eating iron rich foods. Foods that contain iron include:

  • dark-green leafy vegetables, such as green, spinach etc.
  • beans
  • nuts
  • meat

There are some foods and medicines that can make it harder for your body to absorb iron. These may include:

  • tea and coffee
  • calcium, found in dairy products such as milk
  • antacids (medication to help relieve indigestion)

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