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Feature Article

Iron deficiency anaemia: causes, symptoms and treatment

Lisa Clarke, Anthony J Dodds

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Abstract

Iron deficiency anaemia remains a significant problem in Australia and has impacts on development, health and wellbeing. This review focuses on the causes, diagnosis and management of iron deficiency and provides some useful advice regarding iron replacement.

Key Points

  • Iron deficiency is a significant problem in Australia.
  • Iron deficiency can occur with or without anaemia.
  • Measurement of serum iron in isolation is not a reliable screening test for iron deficiency. The diagnosis relies on the interpretation of iron studies.
  • Iron deficiency results from a combination of an increased demand, decreased intake or absorption, and/or increased loss.
  • Identifying and treating the underlying cause of iron deficiency are the most important aspects of management.
  • Iron replacement with oral iron supplementation should be commenced in all patients with iron deficiency as first-line therapy.

    Picture credit: © Science Photo Library RM/David Mack/Diomedia.com

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