Fast Five Quiz: How Familiar Are You With Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Emmanuel C. Besa, MD; Derek B. Laskar, MD


January 10, 2018

Iron deficiency in the absence of anemia is clinically asymptomatic and depends on the degree of anemia or iron store levels. However, some common symptoms include weakness, fatigue, and exertional dyspnea. Upon physical examination, patients may present with pallor, dry skin, cheilosis, and glossitis. One half of patients with moderate iron deficiency anemia develop pagophagia, a form of pica in which individuals typically crave ice to suck or chew. Occasionally, patients are seen who prefer cold celery or other cold vegetables in lieu of ice. Leg cramps, which occur on climbing stairs, also are common in patients deficient in iron. Dysphagia may occur with solid foods, with webbing of the mucosa at the junction of the hypopharynx and the esophagus (Plummer-Vinson syndrome); this has been associated with squamous cell carcinoma of the cricoid area. Rarely, severe iron deficiency anemia is associated with papilledema, increased intracranial pressure, and the clinical picture of pseudotumor cerebri. These manifestations are corrected with iron replacement therapy. Iron repletion stabilizes the patient so that the status does not further decline.

For more on the presentation of iron deficiency anemia, read here.


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