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Clinical update

Iron deficiency anaemia in adults: what to look for and the questions to ask

RCN guidance sets out the information nurses need to identify and manage patients with IDA
Red blood cells. Picture: Alamy

RCN guidance sets out the information nurses need to identify and manage patients with IDA

Essential information

Iron deficiency is the most common form of anaemia and affects an estimated 2 billion people worldwide.

With causes including gastrointestinal conditions, iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) happens when a lack of iron in the body leads to a reduced number of red blood cells.

Typical symptoms include fatigue, weakness and impaired physical function.

Left untreated, IDA can affect the immune system, making patients more vulnerable to illness and infection.

It can also elevate risk of developing problems associated with the heart or lungs, and in pregnancy IDA increases the possibility of complications before and following birth.

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