Iron Deficiency Anemia In Children

Anemia is a common health problem in children. The most common cause of anemia is not getting enough iron. A child who is anemic does not have enough red blood cells or enough hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that lets red blood cells carry oxygen to other cells in the body. Iron is needed to form hemoglobin.

Iron-deficiency anemia can be caused by:

  • Diets low in iron. A child gets iron from the food in their diet. The body absorbs only a small amount of iron from the food.
  • Body changes. When the body goes through a growth spurt, it needs more iron for making more red blood cells.
  • Gastrointestinal tract problems. Poor absorption of iron is common after some forms of gastrointestinal surgery. When you eat foods containing iron, most of the iron is absorbed in the upper small intestine. Any abnormalities in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract could alter iron absorption and cause iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Blood loss. Loss of blood can cause a decrease in iron. Sources of blood loss may include gastrointestinal bleeding, menstrual bleeding, or injury.

These are the most common symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia:

  • Pale skin
  • Irritability or fussiness
  • Lack of energy or tiring easily (fatigue)
  • Fast heart-beat
  • Sore or swollen tongue
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Wanting to eat odd substances, such as dirt or ice (also called pica)

Iron-deficiency anemia can be treated using these methods:

  • Iron-rich diet. Eating a diet with iron-rich foods can help treat iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Iron supplements. Iron supplements can be taken over several months to increase iron levels in the blood. Iron supplements can irritate the stomach and discoloration bowel movements. They should be taken on an empty stomach or with orange juice to increase absorption. They are much more effective than dietary interventions alone. In cases of malabsorption or intolerance, IV iron may be needed.


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