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Anaemia In Men: Possible Causes And Symptoms

Iron deficiency anaemia is a worldwide problem; it is responsible for around eight lakh deaths per year, says a study. [1] Anaemia is usually described as a condition found in women of child-bearing age and children; the prevalence of anaemia is lower in men when compared to these groups.

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According to the recently published data (2019-20) of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), the percentage of anaemic men has increased from 22.7 per cent to 25 per cent, along with an increase in anaemic women (from 53.1 to 57 per cent) and anaemic children (from 58.6 to 67.1 per cent. [2]

Though the percentage of increase of anaemic men is quite less compared to women and children, it is a point of concern due to the increase in the prevalence compared to previous years data.

In this article, we will discuss some of the symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia in men. Take a look.

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Causes Of Anaemia In Men

Studies say that, unlike women, most of the causes of anaemia in men are not due to iron deficiency. This is because men don't menstruate like women, and thus, don't lose blood due to the same.

Some of the causes of anaemia in men include:

  1. Age: According to a study, age is among the primary causes of anaemia in men. This is because the starting age of anaemia in men is mainly 65-68 years. [3]
  2. Tumour: A study has shown that anaemia is often found in patients with solid tumours. [4] As many studies say that men are at higher risk of cancer, therefore, it could be one of the causes of anaemia in them due to cancer. [4]
  3. Ulcers in the gastrointestinal system: According to the CDC, anaemia in men can occur due to internal blood loss caused by ulcers in the gastrointestinal system. [5]
  4. Chronic or inflammatory diseases: A study has shown that anaemia due to inflammatory disease and iron deficiency is common in elderly men. Some of the inflammatory diseases include diabetes and hypertension. [6].
  5. Blood loss: Not only do tumours or ulcers cause blood loss in men, but other conditions like haemorrhoids, liver diseases, infection, surgery, trauma, varices and chronic coughing could cause loss of blood from the body and lead to anaemia.
  6. High meat consumption: Some studies say that men eat lots of nonvegetarian foods such as meat and poultry which increase the iron content in their bodies. Also, they don't lose blood due to menstruation. These factors cause an overdose of iron in their bodies leading to inflammation and thus, anaemia. [7]
  7. Alcohol abuse: Men are usually frequent drinkers of alcohol. Overconsumption of alcohol can cause them liver diseases and infections, leading them to increased risk of bleeding and thus, anaemia.
  8. Ethnicity: Some studies say that moderate-severe anaemia is highest in men belonging to Hispanic ethnicity. Also, the prevalence of anaemia in preschool-age black male children was 6.1 per cent, which was higher than that of both white and Hispanic male children in the same age group. [8]

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Symptoms Of Anaemia In Men

Most of the anaemic symptoms such as tiredness, fatigue and shortness of breath are common in all groups of people: men, women and kids. Some of the symptoms to diagnose anaemia in men may include:

1. Low testosterone levels

One-third of older adults with anaemia have no recognised cause for the condition; testosterone deficiency is among the highly diagnosed symptoms in these older men, says a study. Testosterone is a vital sex hormone in men as it helps in the regulation of sex drive, strength, muscle mass and production of sperm. Iron helps in the production of testosterone and when its count gets low, deficiency of testosterone is noted. [9]

2. Difficulty in swallowing

Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing is known to occur as a symptom of iron deficiency anaemia, says a study. Both dysphagia and anaemia are highly prevalent in older adults and therefore, can lead to this rare symptom. Also, if anaemia and dysphagia occur together in men, it may increase the risk of complications such as GERD. [10]

3. Tinnitus

Tinnitus can occur due to multiple causes, including anaemia. Tinnitus due to anaemia is mainly caused due to heart conditions. Certain heart conditions like cardiomyopathy affect the pumping of blood by the heart muscles, leading to reduced blood supply in the ears and thus, tinnitus. As heart conditions are more prevalent in males, therefore, the risk of anaemia-related tinnitus could be high in males. [11]

4. Hair loss

In males, loss of blood due to conditions like surgery, tumour or haemorrhoids can cause deficiency of iron in the body. When iron declines in the body, the haemoglobin production gets low and thus, less transportation of oxygenated blood to certain body parts like hair, leading to a decrease in their rate growth rate. This causes hair loss due to anaemia.

5. Low fertility

A study associates low iron content with lower production of sperm, low libido and increased damage to testicle cells, thus fertility impairment in men. Iron is an important nutrient in keeping away the risk of anaemia and when it gets decreases due to factors like blood loss, alcohol abuse and surgery, it may affect fertility in men. [12]

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To Conclude

Anaemia in men often remains undiagnosed as its symptoms get confused with other conditions. Consult a medical expert if you notice the aforementioned symptoms along with common anaemia symptoms like fatigue, weakness, pale skin, chest pain, dizziness, cold hands and feet, irregular heartbeats and headache.

Anaemia in men is not a life-threatening condition and can easily be treated with supplementation or intravenous therapy. Early diagnosis and treatment of anaemia can prevent its complications.