There are many types of anemia, but the most common form is iron deficiency anemia. Women usually are the ones diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia. Anywhere from 9% to 12% of non-Hispanic white women have it, and nearly 20% of black and Mexican-American women have it. About 2% of adult men have iron deficiency anemia.

It occurs when the body does not get enough iron as a result of nutritional deficiencies or because you are bleeding somewhere in your body, most likely your gastrointestinal GD tract. Such bleeding may be due to colon cancer, infection, ulcers, liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, hemorrhoids or regular aspirin use.

Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath, feeling cold in your fingers and toes, headaches, chest pain and blood in the stool.

If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor. If he/she suspects internal bleeding, usually an endoscopy or colonoscopy is required to find the origin of the bleeding. An endoscopy involves an examination of the esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine. A colonoscopy examines the entire large intestine.

If no disease is detected, patients are prescribed iron supplements and usually retested in several months. Patients may also be advised to eat more of iron-rich foods, which include raisins, meat (liver is the best source), fish, poultry, eggs, legumes and whole-grain bread.

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