[Iron-deficiency anemia: diagnosis and therapy]

A Tichelli, A Gratwohl, B Speck
Schweizerische Medizinische Wochenschrift 1992 March 28, 122 (13): 461-5
Iron deficiency is the most frequent cause of anemia. The correct diagnosis is based on history, peripheral blood findings and investigations of the iron status. Anemia occurs only when iron stores are empty. Iron deficiency anemia is a microcytic, hypochromic anemia. Red blood cells show poikilo- and anisocytosis with predominance of small erythrocytes. In one third of the patients the anemia is accompanied by slight leukopenia. The platelet counts may be normal, increased or decreased. Iron deficiency is documented by decreased serum iron, increased transferrin and decreased iron saturation. Ferritin below 15 ng/ml confirms the depletion of iron. Once the diagnosis of iron deficiency is established, its cause must be investigated. Pregnancy and bleeding are the most frequent conditions leading to iron deficiency. Therapy of iron deficiency involves treatment of the underlying condition as well as reestablishment of iron stores. Oral therapy is the most safe and economical method of correcting iron deficiency. Parenteral therapy should be confined to exceptional situations.

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