Iron Deficiency Anemia | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia?

The most common symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include:

  • pale skin, lips, and hands, or paleness under the eyelids
  • irritability
  • lack of energy or tiring easily
  • increased heart rate
  • sore or swollen tongue
  • a desire to eat peculiar substances, such as dirt or ice (also called pica)

What causes iron deficiency anemia?

Iron deficiency anemia can be caused by:

  • Diets low in iron: Only 1 mg of iron is absorbed for every 10 to 20 mg of iron-rich food ingested.
  • Body changes: Body changes, such as rapid growth spurts in infants and adolescents, require increased iron and red blood cell production.
  • Gastrointestinal tract abnormalities: Any abnormality in the digestive tract limits iron absorption. Difficulty absorbing iron is common after some gastrointestinal surgeries.
  • Blood loss: Blood loss, such as gastrointestinal bleeding or injury, can decrease the amount of iron in a child’s body. 
  • Genetic causes: Rarely, children with are born with iron-refractory iron deficiency anemia (IRIDA), caused by a gene mutation that causes iron deficiency.