Iron deficiency is the most common cause of microcytic, hypochromic anemia. Ferritin blood levels are a measure of the body’s stores of iron and are usually low in iron deficiency anemia. Serum ferritin levels can be normal in iron deficiency anemia, which coexists with chronic inflammatory diseases, chronic infections or malignancy. Following the patient’s cellular response to iron therapy can help make the proper diagnosis. In treating iron deficiency, 6 mg/kg/day up to 200 mg/day of elemental iron is given. Hg concentration can be checked in a few weeks or serum reticulocyte (immature red cell) counts can be done in a few days.
Failure to respond to iron therapy means that the person has another cause of anemia or there is iron mal-absorption (such as in sprue). Iron deficiency in infancy and childhood is nearly always due to low intake and older adults with unexplained iron deficiency should have a complete gastrointestinal evaluation.
CONCLUSION: Microcytic, hypochromic anemia can be caused by iron deficiency and other causes as listed above.
NOTE: Read about the way that copper deficiency can mascarade as iron deficiency anemia.
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