Iron deficiency anemia (low red blood cell)

Chest | Hematology | Iron deficiency anemia (low red blood cell) (Disease)


Iron is absorbed from your food and drink by your bowel. It’s carried in your blood to your bone marrow, where blood cells are produced. Here, the iron is combined with proteins to make haemoglobin. Any iron that doesn’t get used up is stored in the bone marrow and other organs, such as your liver.

If you don’t have enough iron, your body can’t make enough haemoglobin to meet its needs. Your red blood cells then become abnormally small and can’t carry enough oxygen to your organs and tissues. This leads to the symptoms of anaemia.

Babies, teenagers and women who have heavy periods are more likely to get iron deficiency anaemia. Common symptoms of all types of anaemia include feeling tired, looking pale, increased breathlessness, feeling your heart racing or thumping (called palpitations).

If you have iron deficiency anaemia, you may also develop other problems, such as brittle nails, mouth sores or ulcers, difficulty swallowing

These symptoms may be caused by problems other than iron deficiency anaemia. If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP.

Causes and Risk factors

Causes of iron deficiency anemia include blood loss, a lack of iron in your diet, an inability to absorb iron, pregnancy.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To treat iron deficiency anemia, your doctor may recommend you take iron supplements. Your doctor will also treat the underlying cause of your iron deficiency, if necessary.