Mary Jane Brown PhD RD writes about the Ten Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency. Iron deficiency occurs when your body doesn’t have enough of the mineral iron. Your body needs iron to make haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen around the body. If your body doesn’t have enough haemoglobin, your tissues and muscles won’t get enough oxygen to be able to work effectively. This leads to a condition called anaemia. Although there are different types of anaemia, iron deficiency anaemia is the most common worldwide.
Common causes of iron deficiency include:
Inadequate iron intake due to a diet that doesn’t provide the daily nutritional needs or that’s heavily restricted
inflammatory bowel disease
increased iron requirements during pregnancy
blood loss through heavy periods or internal bleeding
Iron deficiency can result in symptoms that can affect your quality of life. These include shortness of breath, tiredness, and reduced concentration.
Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency vary depending on:
the severity of the anaemia
how quickly it develops
your current state of health
In some cases, people experience no symptoms.
Here are ten signs and symptoms of iron deficiency, starting with the most common.
1. Unusual Tiredness
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency. This is due to less oxygen reaching body tissues, depriving them of energy.
Paleness in areas such as the face, lower inner eyelids, or nails may be a sign of moderate or severe iron deficiency. This is caused by lower levels of haemoglobin, which gives blood its red colour.
3. Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is a symptom of iron deficiency, since low haemoglobin levels mean the body isn’t able to transport oxygen to muscles and tissues effectively.
4. Headaches and Dizziness
Headaches and dizziness could be a sign of iron deficiency. The lack of haemoglobin may mean that not enough oxygen reaches the brain, possibly causing its blood vessels to swell and create pressure.
5. Heart Palpitations
In cases of iron deficiency, the heart has to work extra hard to transport oxygen around the body. This can lead to irregular or fast heartbeats and even heart murmurs, an enlarged heart, or heart failure.
6. Dry and Damaged Hair and Skin
Skin and hair may receive less oxygen from the blood during iron deficiency, causing them to become dry and damaged. In more severe cases, this may lead to hair loss.
7. Swelling and Soreness of the Tongue and Mouth
A sore, swollen, or strangely smooth tongue can be a sign of iron deficiency anaemia. Cracks on the corners of the mouth can also be a sign.
8. Restless Legs
People with iron deficiency anaemia have a higher chance of experiencing restless leg syndrome. This is a strong urge to move the legs when at rest.
9. Brittle or Spoon-Shaped Fingernails
Brittle or spoon-shaped nails can be an indicator of more severe iron deficiency anaemia.
10. Other Potential Signs
Other more generic signs of iron deficiency may include strange food cravings, feeling depressed, cold hands and feet, and an increased risk of infections.
What to do if you think you’re iron deficient
If you think you have iron deficiency anaemia, talk to your doctor. They may recommend more iron-rich foods (plus vitamin C to increase your iron absorption) or possibly iron supplements.
When to see a doctor
Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms of iron deficiency. Left untreated, it can develop into iron deficiency anaemia. This could eventually result in complications, including:
higher chance of infections
Iron deficiency anaemia is more common in women than in men.
People who are pregnant or who have heavy menstrual periods have the highest risk and should talk to their doctor about being tested for iron deficiency anaemia.
Only take iron supplements if your doctor prescribes them. Too much iron can damage your heart, liver, and pancreas.
You should also tell your doctor if you experience side effects from iron supplements, like a metallic taste or vomiting.
The bottom line
Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common type of anaemia worldwide.
Some people have obvious symptoms, while others experience none at all. This often depends on the severity of the anaemia.
Common signs and symptoms include tiredness, pale skin, feeling short of breath, and dry and damaged hair and skin.
If you think you have symptoms of iron deficiency, talk to your doctor. Self-diagnosing is not recommended.
Most forms of iron deficiency can be treated fairly easily, usually through an iron-rich diet or iron supplements, if your doctor recommends them.
The above is just a snippet from Mary’s article please read it in full with all research links here
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All the best Jan