What to Know About Iron Deficiencies - Part I

December 15, 2022

Dr. Joe DeStefano of Urgent Care 24/7 discusses Iron Deficiencies.

In iron disorders, you have two sides: you have iron deficiency, you have iron overload. or an iron deficiency. Women are at increased risk for iron deficiency due to pregnancy and periods. Premenopausal women with iron deficiency. Many times it's inadequate oral iron intake. Symptoms of iron deficiency include pica, where you crave non food items, this can be cornstarch, this can be ice, this can be dirt, this can be clay.

Many times, young women who are badly iron deficient will crave these things and eat them, and the craving and behavior disappear when the iron is replaced. Men should not be iron deficient. Generally when a male is iron deficient, that is another underlying disorder, such as peptic ulcer, colon polyps, colon cancers, ABMs. An iron deficiency in a male always requires a GF or GI workup to exclude ulcers or Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or some type of cancer. Same with women beyond their childbearing years.

So you have iron deficiency. If a young woman has iron deficiency, and it does not readily correct with iron replacement, you have to then sometimes treat them as a postmenopausal woman with iron deficiency and rule them out for other causes, such as malabsorption of iron from bowel disease, ensure they're not losing iron through their stool because of colon cancer, or peptic ulcers. So those are the broad, that's the broad spectrum of iron deficiency.

There are people that are iron deficient, have a defect in their GI tract, you do a big workup on them, they don't have ulcers, they don't have Crohn's disease. They don't have a cancer. They swear compliance with their iron. They tell you that their stools are black from taking your iron, and they are still iron deficient. These people actually have a problem with their iron transport genes and don't absorb or iron well. They will need IV iron infusion, a rare condition, but it happens.

Make Sure to Watch Part II in the Series.

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