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Anemia is a disease related to lack of iron, to cure it or not to suffer from it, it is not enough to eat as many spinach as Popeye, also because very often the cause is not related to food. This is not to say that a healthy balanced diet doesn't help you get better in every case.
Anemia: what it is
Iron deficiency anemia is also called iron deficiency, because in Greek Sídēros (σίδηρος) means iron and Penìa (πενία) means Poverty. It is therefore easy to understand that this disease is characterized by a reduced amount of iron in the body.
Why is this element so important to us? Because it is part of the structure of some essential proteins for our health such as hemoglobin (Hb). You may have already heard of it: hemoglobin is a globular protein located in red blood cells that helps transport oxygen from the lungs to the cells by eliminating carbon dioxide.
According to data fromWorld Health Organization, we must speak of anemia, from the diagnostic point of view, when the hemoglobin values in the blood are lower than 12 grams per deciliter (g / dL) in women and 13.4 grams per deciliter in men. When we talk about iron, before going to see the causes and symptoms of anemia, let us remember that we must always think about the specific proteins to which it is linked and which are used to store or transport it. They are called respectively ferritin, transferrin, lactoferrin.
The iron that runs free in our body would be toxic, the one in circulation today, bound to its proteins, derives only in small part from the foods we eat, because it is absorbed only for 5% -10% by the intestine. Most of the iron therefore derives from the breakdown of aged red blood cells and is reused in the bone marrow to form the hemoglobin present in the new red blood cells.
There are really many and very varied symptoms of this disease of which there are different forms, each with specific characteristics. However, there are symptoms that are common to all forms. The severity of the complaints also varies greatly for several factors, such as i levels of circulating iron in the blood, the amount contained in the body's reserves, age, the simultaneous presence of other diseases, the speed with which anemia develops and its possible persistence over time. Let's not forget that there are also forms of anemia that do not cause disturbances, called asymptomatic.
After this preamble we see the most common symptoms which are the headache (headache) and frequent migraines and prolonged, pale skin and mucous membranes, fatigue and exhaustion even at rest, breathing difficulties even in the absence of physical exercise. Less common are ailments such as hair loss, swelling of the tongue, syndrome "Restless legs", dryness and brittleness of the skin, nails and hair and heart murmur (10%)
When you go to treatiron deficiency anemia an attempt is made to bring hemoglobin levels back to normal and restore the body's iron reserves. The first thing to do is not to eat more spinach, as we said immediately, but to go and remove the causes that determine the Iron deficiency. Then we also need the integration of reserves. However, it must be clear that any pharmacological therapy it would be ineffective if the underlying causes of iron deficiency were not eliminated.
Having said that, let's try to see how the Iron reserves. The best solution is oral, because it is the most effective and safest way. It is the doctor who prescribes the appropriate substance which is usually ferrous sulphate, to be taken as he tells us until the amount of iron in the deposits can be brought back to normal levels. It doesn't take long, usually at least 4 months but also 6 months, always keeping the values under control to understand the effectiveness of the therapy.
This type of substance can cause unwanted effects such as nausea, dyspepsia, constipation or diarrhea, dark stools, which is why many drop out of therapy. The alternative are intravenous ones that are much faster in raising hemoglobin values and much more effective, but which are used only when dealing with malabsorption diseases.
The causes can be of physiological or pathological nature. In the second case it means that there is a disease that causes anemia, in this case we can identify two different types: diseases related to the lack of nutrients or malabsorption diseases.
If the causes are physiological, it means that you are in a situation in which more iron is consumed than usual, for example during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding or childhood. Much rarer are in cases where anemia is caused by genetic diseases such as those observed in iron-refractory iron deficiency anemia (IRIDA, Iron Refractory Iron Deficiency Anemia) and other much rarer hereditary diseases (Fanconi anemia, Pyruvate-Kinase deficiency).
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