Main causes of iron deficiency

What are the main causes of iron deficiency?

There are big differences. In developed countries, it depends on the age of the patient. In the paediatric population, it often can be dietary, or it can be malabsorption. Blood loss is rare in this situation.

In younger women, heavy periods of menorrhagia and having children is the commonest cause, because when women have many children, they have to donate quite a lot of iron to the babies.

As the population gets older, the commonest cause is blood loss, which could derive from either malignancy or non-malignant conditions such as angiodysplasia. In the older population, it is very important that investigations are performed to ensure that we are not missing a malignancy.

Finally, malabsorption, i.e. celiac disease, is a reasonably common condition and should always be excluded in patients with iron deficiency.

Dietary iron deficiency in the Western population is extremely rare, because most people in the developed countries do eat very balanced diets.

In the developing countries, on the other hand, dietary iron deficiency is extremely important, because malnutrition is extremely common.

In countries like India we have a large section of the population who are vegetarian and do not have enough access to iron, because iron is mainly available in meet and meet products. So a dietary lack is very common.

In addition, there are many patients who have intestinal parasites like worm infestations and these sadly cause a lot of blood loss through the bowl, so they become very iron deficient.

As the population ages, menorrhagia is common again in women, so the combination of menorrhagia and dietary lack can make them very significantly iron deficient. But as the population gets older again, malignancy becomes a common problem.