Severe Iron Deficiency Anemia: Causes & Treatment for Anemia

Severe to moderate iron deficiency anemia occurs when there is low iron content in your body. It is the commonest type of anemia, affecting children, teenagers, adults, pregnant women.

Severe iron deficiency is usually due to blood loss, poor diet, or inability of the intestine to absorb iron from the food.

Diagnosis of iron deficiency can be confirmed by hemoglobin count. In severe iron deficiency, the hemoglobin count as well as total erythrocytes count is reduced.

Severe iron deficiency anemia is not only dangerous to life, but it also leads to a loss of efficiency and lowered resistance to infection.

Causes of Iron Deficiency in Infancy and Childhood

  • Prolonged milk feeding alone, without supplementing iron containing food.
  • Low birth weight.
  • Iron deficiency anemia in the mother.
  • Infection in infants.
  • Intestinal malabsorption.


  • Symptoms are not generally recognized as in adults.
  • Pale skin.
  • General impairment of health.
  • Increased incidence of infection.

Causes of Iron Deficiency in Pregnancy

  • It may be present before pregnancy.
  • Increase in plasma volume as compared to the red cell mass.
  • Anorexia and vomiting which causes deficient intake of food.
  • Increased demand of the growing fetus.


  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Breathing difficulty.
  • Pale skin and tongue.
  • Unusual craving for mud, clay, ice etc.
  • Cracks on the side of the mouth.
  • Enlarged spleen.
  • PV syndrome. Where there is difficulty in swallowing.

Other Causes of Severe Iron Deficiency are

  • Acute hemorrhage due to trauma, intestinal bleeding,
  • Menorrhagia
  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Carcinoma.
  • Peptic ulcer.
  • Intestinal worms.
  • Stomach bleeding due to aspirin.
  • Iron deficient food.

Treatment of Severe Iron Deficiency Anemia

  • Treating the cause and underlying disease such as peptic ulcer, hemorrhoids, tuberculosis, menorrhgia etc.
  • Eating food rich in iron. Liver, lean meat, eggs, green leafy vegetables, dried fruits etc.
  • Taking iron supplements in the form of tablets and injections as advised by the doctor.
  • Severe iron deficiency may also require blood transfusion.
  • Vitamin C helps to enhance absorption of iron.

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