According to, iron deficiency anemia is defined as anaemia caused by lack of iron, often because of blood loss or pregnancy. It is treated with iron tablets prescribed by a GP and by eating iron-rich foods.


These can include

  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Noticeable heartbeats (palpitations)
  • Pale skin


There are many different causes of iron deficiency anaemia.

If you’re pregnant, iron deficiency anaemia is most often caused by a lack of iron in your diet. A study in Nigeria revealed that using the World Health Organization criterion of 11 g/dL to define anaemia in pregnancy, majority of pregnant women (56%), were anaemic at their initial booking appointment.

Heavy periods are also a very common causes of iron deficiency anaemia. Heavy periods can be treated with medication.

For men, and for women whose periods have stopped, iron deficiency anaemia can be a sign of bleeding in the stomach and intestines caused by:

  • Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Cancers of the bowel or stomach – but this is less common

Any other conditions or actions that cause blood loss could lead to iron deficiency anaemia.


The doctor would usually carry out tests to understand the reason why you are anaemic. He/she will then prescribe treatment, which may include iron pills, based on clinical finding.

References: WHO, Mayo Clinic

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