Microcytic Anemia-Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

You probably heard about or even know people who suffer from microcytic anemia. This article will help you out as it presents valuable information you should know about this form of anemia.

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What does Microcytic Anemia mean?

Microcytic anemia is a medical condition wherein the red blood cells are smaller than the normal size. This occurs as a result of inadequate amount of available hemoglobin usually caused by several conditions such as thalassemias, recurring diseases and iron deficiency. However, the condition is highly synonymous with iron deficiency which is very responsive with iron therapy treatment.

Symptoms of Microcytic Anemia

Signs of anemia are present with this form of blood disorder as seen on the routine blood tests conducted on patients. Besides, other symptoms also include pale skin most especially on the eye conjunctiva; dizziness and fatigue; visible lines on the gums and palms; pale lips, brittle nails, sore mouth and tongue; chest pain and briefness of breath when doing some form of exercise. Women with anemia will also experience heavy menstrual periods while some manifest symptoms referred to as pica or the drive to consume chalk or dirt. But in anemia of those suffering from chronic diseases, the symptoms manifested are those of their underlying chronic disease.


Inadequate supply of iron is the primary culprit of anemia and the same is true with its other form. Iron is an essential element in the production of hemoglobin which is part of the red blood cells. When iron is insufficient, the red bloods cells are small and pale. The body naturally stores iron on the bone marrow and when iron consumption is not enough from the foods that you eat, the body uses the stored iron and once it is consumed without any replacement, then, the body’s production of red blood cells will suffer. The following are the contributing factors that will decrease the body’s iron levels.

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Blood loss – this is a strong indication of internal bleeding among adults usually related to the gastrointestinal tract. Further diagnostic tests will figure out the exact site of bleeding. Besides, anemia may also be due to menstruation among women but other causes must always be figured out. Ulcers are the most common culprit of recurring internal bleeding.

Inadequate iron intake – iron found in food are not easily absorbed in the body especially with non-meat food sources and around one-tenth of the total amount consumed are used by the body. If the stored iron is used up, the percentage of absorbed iron increases because the body must replace the used iron around 1mg a day. Moreover, iron especially increases during healing and growth; thus, children, teens, pregnant women as well as lactating mothers require more iron. Yet, these people are prone to iron deficiency that is why diet must include iron-rich foods.

Chronic diseases – loss of iron increases with the presence of chronic diseases. This is because red blood cells have shorter lifespan, fewer RBC are produced and wasteful iron recycling from dying red blood cells. Anemia of those suffering from certain form of chronic diseases usually start as normocytic anemia in which the RBC still have the normal size but lesser cells are present and gradually advances into microcytic anemia.

It is best to consult your physician before taking any iron supplements as he or she will conduct diagnostic test to figure out the severity of your microcytic anemia. Oftentimes, though, treatment for this type of anemia is incorporated with diet changes that are high in iron as well as supplementing with iron.

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