Iron Deficiency Anemia: Etiology and Pathogenesis

Topic: Healthcare Research
Words: 562 Pages: 2


Iron is an essential component of the hemoglobin molecule and a deficiency leads to the development of anemia. Causes of the disease vary according to age, gender, and socioeconomic status. Iron deficiency anemia refers to hemoglobin that is below two standard deviations for the age and gender of the patient (Bellakhal et al., 2019). Most people with the disease will mostly complain of symptoms such as fatigue and dyspnea. The depletion of iron in the body can be a result of blood loss or poor absorption or decreased intake. This essay will describe the etiology and pathogenesis of iron deficiency anemia.


The causes of iron deficiency anemia differ based on age, gender, and socioeconomic status. The reasons for the development of the disease are inadequate iron ingestion, reduced absorption, or blood loss (Bellakhal et al., 2019). In elderly adults, the main cause is the loss of blood. This is also common in women due to heavy menstruation and pregnancy. A decrease in the rate of assimilation of iron in the body can be caused by coeliac disease (Bellakhal et al., 2019). Patients with the coeliac condition are unable to integrate nutrients such as iron into their bodies because of the immune system attacking the body’s tissues.

Low dietary intake is a common factor for young children who are in cow’s milk instead of breast milk. Breastfeeding is important because it protects the child as it has high iron content. Another cause is parasitic infections which lead to a deficiency in iron in the body. The development of the infections is because of common worm infections such as hookworm infection, whipworm infection, and schistosomiasis (Bellakhal et al., 2019). Parasites may feed on the blood of the host which creates an inadequacy of iron in the body. Developing countries have the most cases of iron deficiency anemia caused by parasites.


In the formation of hemoglobin, iron is an important element. The main reason for the development of iron deficiency anemia is the lack of iron in the body. Deficiency of iron happens in several stages which provide insight into the pathogenesis of the disease. In the first stage, the rate of iron ingestion becomes less than the iron requirements in the body. This creates a gradual reduction of the iron stores in the bone marrow. The next step involves an increased need for iron which creates erythropoiesis impairment due to increased absorption of dietary iron (Chaparro & Suchdev, 2019). The next phase is the manifestation of anemia that has red blood cells that appear normal. After that, red blood cells that are smaller than normal and have less color than normal are formed (Chaparro & Suchdev, 2019). The last stage is the appearance of symptoms and signs due to the disease affecting the tissues. Patients should be tested to determine the likely cause of the condition. However, individuals with obvious blood loss symptoms such as women should be exempted from the tests.


In summary, iron deficiency anemia is caused by a lack of iron in the body. Iron deficiency can be because of blood loss, low absorption of iron, and increased iron needs. In other cases, parasitic infections such as hookworm infection, whipworm infection, and schistosomiasis may cause blood loss which may predispose individuals to anemia. The disease develops in stages and patients need tests to determine the likely cause.


Bellakhal, S., Ouertani, S., Antit, S., Abdelaali, I., Teyeb, Z., & Dougui, M. H. (2019). Iron deficiency anemia: clinical and etiological features. La Tunisie Medicale, 97(12), 1389-1398.

Chaparro, C. M., & Suchdev, P. S. (2019). Anemia epidemiology, pathophysiology, and etiology in low-and middle-income countries. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1450(1), 15. 10.1111/nyas.14092

Health Inequality in Australia
Aspects of National Patient Safety Goals