Chronic or excessive bleeding. Long-term
(chronic) bleeding is the most common cause of iron loss that leads to iron
deficiency. Other conditions or events that result in large amounts of blood
loss may also lower iron levels to the point where
anemia develops. Causes of iron deficiency that are
related to blood loss include:
Bleeding in the digestive tract, often due to
ulcers and inflammation of the stomach (gastritis). This is the most common cause of iron loss
in men. Both men and women over age 60 are at an increased risk of digestive
Pregnancy. Blood loss during and after birth may
cause a woman to become iron-deficient, which may result in anemia or hair
Menstruation. Excessively heavy periods (menorrhagia) can
cause iron deficiency in women, especially when combined with other factors,
such as inadequate iron intake.
Severe injuries that cause
significant blood loss.
Decreased ability to absorb iron. Medicines that
reduce stomach acids may cause iron absorption problems. Conditions that may
decrease your body's absorption of iron include:
Total or partial removal of the stomach
Insufficient iron intake. Some people develop an
iron deficiency because they do not get enough iron in their diets. Most
people's nutritional needs can be met by eating a balanced diet that includes
foods high in iron, such as meats.
Low iron can be detected by laboratory tests. For more
information, see the topic Iron Deficiency Anemia.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
May 29, 2012
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
May 29, 2012
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