When Iron Deficiency is Overlooked in Women

Researchers of a recent study delve into the historical context of iron deficiency anaemia, particularly its association with women’s health issues and the evolution of treatments over time. Despite its prevalence, iron deficiency in women is often overlooked, with heavy menstrual bleeding being a significant contributor. Recent studies demonstrate that anaemia affects 12% to 18% of seemingly healthy women, with up to one-third experiencing undiagnosed iron deficiency. Moreover, iron deficiency manifests in various symptoms beyond fatigue, including “brain fog,” hair loss, and pica. Understanding the diverse symptoms and consequences of iron deficiency is crucial for improved diagnosis and treatment, especially considering its impact on physical performance and productivity.

The review also highlights the necessity of reconsidering traditional diagnostic thresholds for anaemia, particularly in women undergoing anesthesia, where lower hemoglobin levels may be accepted as normal despite potential adverse outcomes. By recognizing the prevalence of iron deficiency in seemingly healthy women and understanding its impact on both physical and mental health, healthcare providers can better address the need for routine screening and appropriate interventions. Moreover, the narrative underscores the importance of advocating for a shift towards recognizing and addressing iron deficiency as a significant public health concern.

Reference: Dugan C, MacLean B, Cabolis K, et al. The misogyny of iron deficiency. Anaesthesia. 2021 Apr;76 Suppl 4:56-62. doi: 10.1111/anae.15432. PMID: 33682094.

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