Women Should Know About These Signs and Risk Factors of Iron-Deficiency Anaemia

Posted on: 18 July 2016

Iron-deficiency anaemia occurs when your body isn't able to produce a sufficient amount of iron. This means that your red blood cells become low in haemoglobin, which is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body. Anybody can develop the condition, but women are more likely than men to do so due to the bleeding that occurs during menstruation or labour. Here are several risk factors that you need to watch out for.

Heavy Flow

One of the most common causes of anaemia among menstruating women is a particularly heavy monthly flow. If you lose more blood than your body can replace, anaemia will follow. In fact, one recent study of 236 women who suffered from heavy menstrual bleeding showed a 27% incidence rate of anaemia; 60% were severely iron deficient. If you find that you need to change pads or tampons more regularly than normal, you might be suffering from heavy menstrual periods.

Pregnancy or Recent Pregnancy

When you're pregnant, you require far more iron in order to supply oxygen to the foetus, prepare your body for the loss of blood during labour, and take care of your own increased nutritional needs. After giving birth, try taking an iron supplement, especially if you have given birth to more than one baby. It does take some time for your body to re-establish healthy iron levels, so becoming pregnant again soon after giving birth will put you at greater risk.

Growing Feelings of Weakness

If your body isn't able to produce enough red blood cells, you may find yourself developing anaemia no matter how light your monthly flow is. If this is the case, you should expect to find yourself feeling weak, dizzy or irritable no matter how much sleep and food you have each day. You may also experience cold in your extremities and pains in your chest. These symptoms are likely to be light at first as your body adapts to the loss of oxygen, but they will grow over time unless action is taken.

Preexisting Conditions

A number of factors can inhibit your body's ability to produce either a sufficient number of red blood cells or a sufficient number that lack the proper amount of haemoglobin. Cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and kidney disease can all serve to interfere with this process. Several inherited conditions can also play a part, including aplastic anaemia, sickle cell anaemia and haemolytic anaemia, so make sure your family history is free of such issues.

Iron-Poor Diet

Your body needs to take in a sufficient amount of iron-rich foods. Such foods include fortified cereals, beans, liver, red meat, fish and green, leafy vegetables. Foods that are high in vitamin C are great to take alongside iron-rich foods since vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. Coffee and tea should be avoided. Women who regularly exercise should be extra careful to include plenty of iron in their diet. If you struggle, consider taking a supplement; many of them will conveniently include both iron and vitamin C.

For more information on anaemia and other women's health care issues, contact your doctor.