Updated 30 January 2019

Iron Deficiency Anaemia affects one fourth of the population

ADVERTORIAL: Understand the cause.

Are you at risk?

Iron Deficiency Anaemia affects one fourth of the population, with certain people at greater risk.8

Once your doctor has diagnosed you with anaemia it is important for you to understand the cause. Iron Deficiency Anaemia can result from various causes.

The main causes include low dietary intake of iron, decreased iron absorption due to gastrointestinal conditions and blood loss.3

Low intake of iron2

Celiac disease
Duodenal resection/gastric bypass surgery
Inflammatory bowel disease
Helicobacter pylori gastritis
Autoimmune gastritis

Dietary causes
High intake of phytates, (legumes, nut, whole grain cereals, unprocessed bran) polyphenols (herbal tea's, coffee, cocoa, red wine)9

Significant loss of iron2

Gynaecologic causes

Meno(metro)rrhagia (myoma, endometriosis, bleeding disorders)
Uterine cancer

Gastrointestinal causes

Upper gastrointestinal blood loss
   Gastric/duodenal ulcer
   Variceal bleeding
   Esophagitis, erosive gastritis

Lower gastrointestinal blood loss
   Hemorrhoids, anal fissures, rectal ulcers
   Angiodysplasia (lesions in the stomach causing gastrointestinal bleeding)
   Inflammatory bowel disease

Other causes
Surgery, trauma, childbirth, blood donation
Prolonged nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use
Parasitic infection (eg, hookworm, tapeworm)

Increased demand of iron2

Pregnancy, lactation
Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (in chronic kidney disease, chemotherapy-induced anaemia)

Rare causes2

Idiopathic pulmonary hemosiderosis (repeated bleeding in the lungs)
Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (genetic disorder that leads to blood vessel formation in the skin, that leads to abnormal bleeding)
Coagulation disorders, platelet dysfunction
Congenital iron deficiency

2. Jimenez, K., Kulnigg-Dabsch, S., et al. Management of Iron Deficiency anaemia. Gastroenterology & Hepatology 2015, 11(4):241-250.
3. Johnson-Wimbley, T.D. and Graham, D.Y. Diagnosis and management of iron deficiency anaemia in the 21st century. Ther Adv Gastroenterol 2011, 4(3):177-184.
8. Anaemia in South Africa: the past, the present and the future. S Afr J Clin Nutr, 2013, 26(4): 166-167.
9. Saunders, A.W., Craig, W.J., et al. Iron and vegetarian diets. MJA Open, 2012, 2:11-16.