Signs Of Iron Deficiency

Iron is a crucial mineral our body requires for performing various functions. Iron is an element found in hemoglobin, a protein that helps capture oxygen from the lungs and transport it throughout the body. If the body does not have hemoglobin, the body muscles and tissues will not receive oxygen and perform their function effectively, causing anemia. Anemia is a health condition in which, due to iron deficiency, less iron is present in red blood cells. It cannot adequately transport oxygen to different muscles and tissues, causing you to feel tired and weak. It is both an acute and chronic condition. 

Different Types Of Anemia

    • Aplastic Anemia

In this type of anemia, the body stops producing any new red blood cells. This causes you to feel more fatigued, and you can quickly get infected. 

    • Iron Deficiency Anemia 

This happens due to a lack of iron in the body, due to which blood lacks red blood cells. This, therefore, results in less production of hemoglobin, making you feel short of breath. 

    • Sickle Cell Anemia 

This inherited disorder happens due to a lack of healthy blood cells, and the red blood cells are shaped like a Crescent moon or sickled rather than being round. 

    • Thalassemia

The hemoglobin level in the body is much lower than required, decreasing oxygen transportation. 

    • Vitamin Deficiency Anemia 

An individual lacks healthy blood cells due to specific vitamins like folate, B-12, and vitamin C. 

Causes 

Causes of an iron deficiency depend from individual to individual. Certain common causes include: 

  1. Foremost the main reason may be due to a lack of intake of iron in your food. 
  2. A person with inflammatory bowel disease 
  3. During pregnancy, the iron demand in your body increases. 
  4. Heavy blood loss during periods. 

The Symptoms Caused Due To Lack Of Iron Are Different For Every Individual, And It Also Depends Upon The Severity Of The Iron Deficiency

Unusual Tiredness

Feeling tired is a common symptom for people who have a lack of iron. This happens because the body lacks hemoglobin, which plays an essential role in carrying oxygen throughout the body. If the amount of hemoglobin in the body is less, the amount of oxygen that is supposed to reach tissues and muscles is less, depriving them of energy. This also makes your heart work more to produce oxygen-rich blood. 

Feeling tired is an overall outcome of the lifestyle we have. This is accompanied by low energy and weakness. One might also find difficulty in concentrating. If you observe yourself feeling tired while doing regular work, it is advisable to consult your doctor and run a blood test to check the hemoglobin level in the body.

Paleness

Paleness could be a common symptom that indicates you might have iron deficiency. The red color of the blood is due to hemoglobin present in the blood cells. Low levels of hemoglobin cause the blood to become paler. This causes the skin to lose its healthy color or warmth and may look pale. You can confirm this through blood tests. Paleness can be more noticeable in mild to severe cases of anemia. 

Shortness Of Breath

In red blood cells, hemoglobin helps in carrying oxygen. When hemoglobin level is lower than usual due to lack of iron, the oxygen level drops. This causes your muscles to receive a lower amount of oxygen for performing routine activities. Hence the rate at which you breathe increases. Since your body tries to get extra oxygen, causing shortness of breath, this could happen while walking, working out, or climbing stairs. One should consult their doctor and run a blood test.

Headache And Dizziness 

Lack of iron can cause headaches. This is more prominent in women than in men. This particular symptom of lightheadedness is not so common. No substantial evidence can prove the relation between lightheadedness and iron deficiency. One of the studies suggests that due to the low level of hemoglobin in red blood cells, the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain is not enough causing the blood vessels to swell and increase pressure and headache.  

Heart Palpitations

More study needs to occur in finding out the relation between anemia, heart palpitations, and iron deficiency, but one thing is clear this happens due to lack of oxygen. One of the theories suggests that the hemoglobin present in red blood cells transports oxygen throughout the body. When a person lacks iron, hemoglobin levels drop, which causes the heart to work harder to produce oxygen and transport it. This may lead to irregular heartbeat, and sometimes the heart beats abnormally fast. In extreme cases, the spirit might be enlarged, causing heart failure. 

Dry And Damaged Hair

Dry and damaged hair can be a result of iron deficiency. Due to lower hemoglobin levels, less oxygen is available for the cells responsible for hair growth. 

Swelling Or Soreness In The Mouth

One can indicate whether you lack iron deficiency by taking a look inside or around your mouth. The signs may consist of a swollen tongue, dry mouth, a strange burning feeling in your mouth, red cracks at the corners of the mouth, and ulcers. See a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. 

Restless Leg

Lack of iron links to restless leg syndrome. This causes you to move your leg even at rest restlessly. It may also cause strange crawling or itching in your feet that is worse during the night, causing difficulty sleeping. More than 25% of people with iron deficiency suffer from restless leg syndrome. More research is required in this area to prove its credibility. 

Brittle Or Spoon-shaped Fingernails 

A condition called Koilonychia, in which the nails become brittle and spoon-shaped. The first sign of this is brittle nails, followed by spoon-shaped nails. This may be a sign of a lack of iron. 

Some Other Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency Could Include

    • Strange Cravings

Suppose you crave food or non-food items like chalk, dirt, sand, clay, ice, paper. This is called pica which may be a sign of iron deficiency. It can even occur for pregnant women. 

    • Feeling Depressed 

Iron deficiency associates with depression in adults. The chances are higher for pregnant women. 

    • Cold Feet And Hands

Due to a lack of hemoglobin and oxygen reaching through muscles and tissues, one might experience cold feet and hands. 

    • Immune System

A person can easily get infected with numerous diseases due to a lack of immunity. 

These were just a few of the symptoms that one person might observe in themselves. The severity of symptoms may vary from individual to individual. The symptoms above were just a few common symptoms one might notice in themselves. One should always consult their doctor/ physician and get themselves tested. 

Conclusion

If you feel you are showing any signs and symptoms indicating iron deficiency, one should consult their doctor and perform a simple blood test. If iron deficiency is confirmed, you can start treating it before it gets worse. The primary treatment includes restoring the level of hemoglobin. This can be done by having iron-rich foods like red meat, green vegetables, dried fruits, Specificseafood, seeds, and nuts. Including vitamin C in your diet is very important as it helps in absorbing iron better. Your doctor might even prescribe iron supplements for increasing the level of iron in your body.