Microcytic anemia is a disease characterized by red blood cells that are smaller than normal and fewer in number. Microcytic anemia is most commonly caused by low levels of iron, also known as iron deficiency. Iron is necessary for red blood cells to make hemoglobin, the substance that helps transport oxygen throughout the body. Microcytic anemia can also be caused by low levels of copper, lead toxicity, congential and genetic diseases, drug use, or alcohol use. Symptoms of microcytic anemia include tiredness, weakness, low energy, shortness of breath, dizziness, and pale skin.
Microcytic anemia is usually diagnosed through a blood test such as a complete blood count (CBC). An additional test called a peripheral blood smear may also be given to look for changes in your red blood cells.
Treatment focuses on the underlying cause of the disease. It often includes iron supplements or diet changes to get more iron in the body. In extremely severe cases, blood transfusions may be necessary to increase the number of healthy red blood cells in the body.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with microcytic anemia, talk to your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups are also a good source of information.
Description Last Updated: Aug 29, 2018