Anemia is a low level of healthy red blood cells (RBC). RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When red blood cells are low the body does not get enough oxygen. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue, pale skin, or irregular heartbeat.
Iron is needed to build healthy RBCs. Iron-deficiency anemia is caused by low levels of iron in the body.
Red Blood Cells
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Factors that play a role include:
- Iron that is poorly absorbed in the digestive tract (may occur due to intestinal diseases or surgery)
- Chronic bleeding (eg, heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding in the gastrointestinal [GI] tract)
- Not enough iron in the diet (common cause in infants, children, and pregnant women)
Last reviewedSeptember 2012by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.