How Do You Fix Low Iron Deficiency?

  • Medical Reviewer: Dany Paul Baby, MD
Medically Reviewed on 6/8/2022

What are iron deficiency symptoms?

Iron is an essential mineral involved in numerous functions of the body. Fix iron deficiency by eating foods high in iron, regularly taking an iron supplement, getting IV iron, or getting a transfusion.
Iron is an essential mineral involved in numerous functions of the body. Fix iron deficiency by eating foods high in iron, regularly taking an iron supplement, getting IV iron, or getting a transfusion.

Iron is an essential mineral involved in numerous functions of the body. The most important is the transport of oxygen throughout the body via the bloodstream. Iron is found in plant and animal products. The specific foods that you eat affect how much iron your body absorbs.

When your body has too little iron stored, it's called an iron deficiency. Causes can include not having a diet with healthy amounts of iron or chronic blood loss. Many people can't absorb iron properly, so they may be iron deficient as well. If you think you might have an iron deficiency, read on to learn how to recognize the signs and how you can fix it.

Every person is different, so your body’s response to low iron deficiency anemia could be different than someone else's. That said, the following are the most common iron deficiency symptoms: 

You need iron to carry oxygen throughout your entire body. Your body needs it to form hemoglobin to carry oxygen and remove carbon dioxide waste. About 1/3 of iron is stored in the bone marrow, spleen, and liver as ferritin and hemosiderin. If your blood and organs aren't receiving enough oxygen, you might feel tired or cold or notice a pale complexion.

Iron deficiency could mimic other medical problems or blood disorders. Always see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. 

What causes iron deficiency anemia?

The following can cause iron deficiency anemia:

Iron deficient diet: We naturally get iron from the food we eat in our diet. If you don't have an iron-rich diet, you could have some amount of iron deficiency. 

Bodily changes: When your body is going through a change, it needs more iron. This could include changes due to growth spurts in adolescents or a growing fetus during pregnancy

Blood loss: Bleeding too much can cause the amount of iron in your body to go down. You could lose some blood from a menstrual cycle, bleeding in your GI system, or injury.

Problems with your gut: Some GI surgical procedures lead to the malabsorption of iron. The iron we get from food is metabolized in the small intestine. Some medicines and surgery affect iron absorption. 

How does anemia affect your body?

There are some additional ways anemia can affect your body. They include having spoon-shaped brittle nails. The decreased amount of iron may also lead to thinning or loss of your hair. Your sense of taste may change due to a sore tongue, or you may have ringing in your ears. 

Untreated anemia can lead to cardiovascular problems like an enlarged heart, an abnormal heartbeat, or heart failure. Other risks include depression and infections. 

Who is most at risk of iron deficiency?

Men, women, and children of all ages can develop iron deficiency. However, these people are more at risk:

Menstruating women: Childbirth and a monthly menstrual cycle can lead to iron deficiency anemia due to a large amount of blood loss. Fibroids can also cause heavy periods that lead to anemia. 

Infants: When being weaned off breast milk or formula, infants can become anemic when starting table food. Iron from regular food is not easily metabolized by their bodies. 

Kids aged 1 to 2: During growth spurts, the body can't keep up the iron supply needed to keep the body running at full throttle. 

People on blood thinners: Taking medications like aspirin, coumadin, or Plavix that thin the blood can cause iron deficiency. 

Seniors over the age of 65: Iron-poor diets and chronic disease in those over 65 can lead to iron deficiency anemia. 

How can you fix iron deficiency?

When your doctor finally finds the cause of your iron deficiency anemia, whether from a poor diet or a health issue, they'll treat the anemia and the cause. Iron-deficiency anemia can be treated by:

  • Regularly taking an iron supplement
  • Having a diet that includes food high in iron and also eating foods with vitamin C to aid the body in absorbing the iron
  • Intravenous (IV) infusion of iron
  • A red blood cell transfusion

If the cause of your iron deficiency is due to internal bleeding, you will need surgery so that a doctor can stop it. Surgery helps to cure anemia in people with ulcers and hiatal hernias. Some things lead to the impairment of iron absorption by the body. For example, you shouldn't mix iron and calcium supplements. You should limit or avoid the following foods:


Sickle cell disease is named after a farming tool. See Answer

Can low-iron deficiency be prevented?

Anemias that are inherited like sickle-cell anemia cannot be prevented. But iron deficiency anemia can be prevented by eating an iron favorable diet. This includes eating foods with plenty of minerals, including iron. Your diet should also include food rich in vitamin C to help with absorption. Studies show that drinking plenty of water along with consuming iron will help to keep hemoglobin levels high. 

Once diagnosed, how is iron deficiency managed?

Some anemias are short-term, and some are permanent. Iron deficiency anemia can be treated and managed. There are several things that you can do to manage it:

1. Eat a healthy, iron-rich diet.

2. Always stay hydrated by drinking water.

3. Have a regular exercise routine. If your anemia has made you weak, proceed cautiously and contact your doctor with any questions.

4. To avoid infection, wash your hands often. 

5. Stay away from chemicals that set anemia into motion.

6. Have regular dental visits. 

7. Talk to the doctor about any changing symptoms.

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Medically Reviewed on 6/8/2022

Cleveland Clinic: "Anemia."

Better Health Channel: "Iron and iron deficiency."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Iron-Deficiency Anemia."