- The most common cause of microcytic anemia is iron deficiency.
- A person who is suffering from a lot of bleeding is prone to suffer from this condition. In men, gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is the most frequent source of iron depletion. GI bleeding may be from ulcers, inflammatory bowel conditions or even severe hemorrhoids. In woman heavy bleeding during menstruation. Other than this, those who suffer from cancer and infections can also have decreased iron and increased bleeding. These are the other causes of microcytic anemia.
- Anemia of chronic disease is another cause of microcytic anemia. Usually this anemia is normocytic, but in a minority of cases an anemia of chronic disease can be microcytic. This type of anemia is common in patients on dialysis or with significant chronic renal insufficiency, or other patients with serious chronic medical problems.
- Lead poisoning is the next most common and one of the most serious causes of microcytic anemia. It needs to be suspected in any young child with microcytic anemia who does not respond quickly to iron supplementation, or who lives in a home with lead pain exposure. This is mostly older homes.
- Other hereditary conditions like hereditary spherocytosis or hereditary elliptocytosis. These are due to genetic mutations in red blood cell wall proteins that can lead to very small red blood cells that have fragile cell membranes.
- Other causes of microcytic anemia are quite uncommon.
- Fatigue and weakness.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain.
- Problems in concentrating.
- Paleness of the skin.
- Coldness in hands and feet.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Abnormal heart rhythm.
- A ferritin level <15 mcg/L confirms iron deficiency.
- If there is coexisting chronic inflammatory disease, the clinician should consider seeking specialist advice about other measures of iron status.
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