About IDA

Iron Deficiency Anemia Overview

Anemia is a condition in which you do not have enough healthy red blood cells to deliver adequate oxygen throughout your body.

When your body does not have enough iron, it will make fewer red blood cells or red blood cells that are too small. This is called iron deficiency anemia. 

IDA Symptoms 1, 2

Patients suffering from IDA may experience a variety of symptoms. 

Most of the time, symptoms are mild at first and develop slowly. The most common symptom is feeling weak or tired more often than usual or with exercise. Other symptoms may include:

  • Feeling grumpy
  • Headaches
  • Problems concentrating or thinking

As the anemia gets worse, symptoms may include:

  • Blue color to the whites of the eyes
  • Brittle nails
  • Light-headedness when you stand up
  • Pale skin color
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore tongue

People at Risk for IDA 1, 3

Certain conditions can make individuals more susceptible to IDA, particularly patients with:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
  • Gastrointestinal disorders, such as bleeding ulcers, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and recent weight-loss surgery
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Cancer and chemotherapy-induced anemia 

Symptoms of the conditions that cause iron deficiency anemia include:

  • Dark, tar-colored stools or blood
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding (women)
  • Pain in the upper belly (from ulcers)

IDA can impact people at any life stage, even if they do not suffer from the above conditions. Populations that are the most prone to the disease include:

  • Young children and pregnant women because of rapid growth and higher iron needs
  • Women of childbearing age due to menstruation
  • Vegetarians who are not supplementing their meat-free diet with enough iron-rich foods
  • Frequent blood donors whose irons stores become depleted