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Iron Deficiency Anemia in Odisha-India -Causes and Symptoms

Can you think of a body living with close to no healthy blood cells! Iron makes red blood cells (hemoglobin) that helps carry oxygen from lungs to all parts of the body, muscles and cells. Cellular oxygen makes you breathe and get energy from the food you eat. Deficiency of iron, particularly in the long term, shows short-breath, lack of energy and stamina, pale skin and digestive problems. Those are the causes and some of the symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDO).

Iron is not produced by human body like calcium. The causes of the iron deficiency in Odisha-India and the rest of the world can be as simple as not consuming and/or not absorbing enough iron. Anemia is technically defined as a hemoglobin (Hb) concentration of less than 13 g/dL in males and 12 g/dL in females respectively. 

Have a look at the pictures below to have an idea how red the normal blood cells (the top picture) look vs. the faint colored blood cells (bottom picture) of an anemic person having lower than normal level.

Iron-Deficiency Anemia - Normal Blood

Normal Blood Cells

 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Red_Blood_Cells_png.png

 

Iron-Deficiency Anemia - blood

 

Iron Deficient Blood Cells

 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Severe_iron_deficiency_anemia.jpg

 

Before we delve in, here are the highlights.

Highlight

The causes of the iron deficiency in Odisha-India and the rest of the world can be as simple as not consuming and/or not absorbing enough iron. 

It could be due to loss of blood due to heavy menstrual cycle, multiple pregnancies and lactation, frequent blood donation, being a pure vegetarian and suffering from malaria.

Symptoms are lethargy, headache, shortness of breath, pale skin, chest pain and feeling a lack of stamina and energy.

Signs could be multiple based on how long you have lived not curing the dismal iron level. Yellow teeth, yellowish color under the eyelid, broken nails and hair, shaking legs unconsciously and eating dirt and ice!

Causes of Iron Deficiency

  • The causes could be as simple as not consuming enough iron but you are losing more iron from your body.  You may be eating enough iron and still be anemic. The reason could be  your body doesn’t absorb iron well from foods or supplements you consume. 
  • Multiple pregnancies, abortions and lactation associated malnutrition is the major cause of less iron in the body. You need more iron for your fetus and yourself during pregnancy. The daily laborer class has more kids so they can have more income. Pregnant women if not supplemented with iron can be easily iron deficient because the fetus is using iron for the blood.
  • Women could lose iron due to heavy menstruation which needs one to eat more iron. 
  • You may suffer from internal or external bleeding due to an accident losing blood from your body thus iron resulting in iron deficiency.
  • if you are a frequent blood donor, you may get into a low iron situation and may have to consume more iron.
  • Iron Fix Could Be a Challenge for Vegetarians-Why?

  • More people are vegetarian in Odisha although the situation is changing. The iron coming from vegetables (non-heme iron) is more difficult to absorb by the body than iron coming from fish, meat and poultry. You may be eating a lot of iron from vegetarian food but without absorption consumption does not count.
  • As mentioned, Iron is not produced  by the body and is an essential element like calcium. However, the fact is that calcium rich foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, broccoli, tofu and some fish which can be easily accessed are some of the only known substances to inhibit and limit  the absorption of both heme and nonheme iron.
  • The severe sufferers of Covid 19 severe having breathing problems because of oxygen deficiency -are having less blood and some of them had to be given blood fusion.
  • An infective mosquito bite infects red blood cells and ruptures them in case of frequent malaria sufferers. The blood of these patients has low iron content.  This results in an effective loss of red blood cells resulting in low red blood cells. It can cause severe anemia.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

  1. Faster heartbeat: low iron makes the heart to work harder for blood flow to happen
  2. Short breath
  3. Fatigued body
  4. Headache
  5. Feeling of lack of stamina and Energy
  6. Pale skin
  7. Yellowish Teeth
  8. Under eyelid looks yellowish
  9. Broken hair
  10. Broken nails
  11. Shaking legs unconsciously
  12. Swollen tongue with red spots on the side 
  13.  Eating ice and dirt

Dangers of Iron Deficiency

Every iron deficient person does not end up being anemic. It is confusing to catch the early symptoms. The short-term prognosis for most patients is excellent. However, if the underlying cause is not corrected, over time it  can lead to death (rare situation) from an underlying lung or heart disorder.

Check with your doctor before deciding any treatment.

Why Are Odishans (An Eastern State of India) Iron Deficient?

Poor Odisha people from India suffer from low Iron and malnutrition. Around half of the population in Odisha are iron deficient anemic (51.0%)More women than men, older people and kids are more vulnerable to Iron deficiency.

Early days of low iron in the body may not show recognizable symptoms. Nonetheless, an uncured long term iron deficiency could lead to anemia.

For a poor Indian- Odishan, malnutrition and iron deficiency is very common. The suffering  is widespread in the form of diseases and needs control. Iron boosting foods for the poor can help Indians.

More health education is absolutely essential particularly for the under privileged Odisha people. I was born and brought up in Odisha and lived for 18 months from late 2019 through 2021 during the pandemic which is still continuing. I realized Odisha has enough iron rich vegetables and fish. People just have to know this.

Bottom line

Iron makes blood red. Iron deficiency anemia is the lack of iron in the blood.  Women could lose iron due to heavy menstruation which needs one to eat more iron. You may suffer from internal or external bleeding due to an accident or you may have to eat more iron if you are a frequent blood donor. 

Don’t let early iron deficiency slip you.

Check your hemoglobin level with your physician. Make sure you consume sufficient iron daily and check with a medical professional during your yearly or bi-monthly physical check-up.

Disclosure

All information and resources found on (your website URL) are based on the opinions of the author resulting from researching NIH, NCBI and many of high authority websites unless otherwise noted.  All information is intended to encourage readers to make their own nutrition and health decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider.

Anusuya Choudhury

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