Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron Deficiency, Iron is one of the most essential nutrients which is usually present in red blood cells. Iron helps in building immunity, boosts hemoglobin level, prevents anemia and contributes to the overall functioning of the human body. An insufficient intake of iron can lead to iron deficiency. Iron deficiency leads to low levels of red blood cells and hemoglobin. Iron deficiency can show some side effects which can be detected easily. Iron deficiency can affect various body functions.
It is a condition that should not be ignored. To avoid disturbances in many basic functions of the body and severe anemia, you need to understand the need to consume enough iron.
13 Disturbing Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
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Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency vary depending on the severity of the anemia, how quickly it develops, your age and current state of health. Here are 10 signs and symptoms of iron deficiency, starting with the most common.
- Hair fall
Enough iron is necessary for your hair health. Iron deficiency can lead to hair fall and make your hair dry. Your hair follicles do not receive enough oxygen which affects the quality of hair and leads to hair fall. Adding enough iron to your diet can help you control the hair fall. Not just hair, iron deficiency can affect your skin as well.
- Restless legs
Restless legs syndrome is a condition in which you are unable to keep your legs still when at rest. It is one of the iron deficiency symptoms. You constantly feel like moving your legs. It is a very unpleasant sensation which you might feel usually while sleeping. Iron deficiency is a common reason behind this syndrome.
- Shortness of breath
Iron deficiency causes low levels of hemoglobin which is responsible for carrying oxygen in the body. Low level of iron reduces the flow of oxygen which leads to shortness of breath and creates difficulty in different functions.
- Headache and dizziness
Iron deficiency can cause frequent headaches along with dizziness. When your different body parts including the brain do not receive enough oxygen it leads to pressure on the blood vessels causing headache. Improper flow of red blood cells causes dizziness as well.
- Pale skin
Hemoglobin deficiency also affects the colour of your skin. The skin loses its health and colour. It is visible in different parts of the body. Food sources of iron can boost their level and give support to your skin.
- Unusual Tiredness
Feeling very tired is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency, affecting more than half of those who are deficient. This happens because your body needs iron to make a protein called hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells. Hemoglobin helps carry oxygen around the body.
When your body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin, less oxygen reaches your tissues and muscles, depriving them of energy. In addition, your heart has to work harder to move more oxygen-rich blood around your body, which can make you tired.
Since tiredness is often considered a normal part of a busy, modern life, it’s difficult to diagnose iron deficiency with this symptom alone. However, many people with iron deficiency experience low energy alongside weakness, feeling cranky, difficulty concentrating or poor productivity at work.
- Heart Palpitations
Noticeable heartbeats, also known as heart palpitations, can be another symptom of iron-deficiency anemia. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that helps transport oxygen around the body.
In iron deficiency, low levels of hemoglobin mean the heart has to work extra hard to carry oxygen.
This can lead to irregular heartbeats or the feeling that your heart is beating abnormally fast.
In extreme cases, it can lead to an enlarged heart, heart murmur or heart failure. However, these symptoms tend to be a lot less common. You would have to suffer from iron deficiency for a long time to experience them.
- Swelling and Soreness of the Tongue and Mouth
Sometimes just looking inside or around your mouth can give you an indication of whether you are suffering from iron-deficiency anemia. Signs include when your tongue becomes swollen, inflamed, pale or strangely smooth. Low hemoglobin in iron deficiency can cause the tongue to become pale, while lower levels of myoglobin can cause it to become sore, smooth and swollen.
Myoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that supports your muscles, such as the muscle that makes up the tongue. Iron deficiency can also cause dry mouth, sore red cracks at the corners of the mouth or mouth ulcers.
- Spoon-Shaped Fingernails
A much less common symptom of iron deficiency is brittle or spoon-shaped fingernails, a condition called koilonychia. This often starts with brittle nails that chip and crack easily.
In later stages of iron deficiency, spoon-shaped nails can occur where the middle of the nail dips and the edges are raised to give a rounded appearance like a spoon. However, this is a rare side effect and usually only seen in severe cases of iron-deficiency anemia.
- Strange cravings
A hankering for strange foods or non-food items is called “pica.” It usually involves cravings to eat ice, clay, dirt, chalk or paper and could be a sign of iron deficiency. It can also occur during pregnancy.
- Feeling anxious
The lack of oxygen available to body tissues in iron deficiency may cause feelings of anxiety. However, this tends to improve or resolve as iron levels are corrected.
- Cold hands and feet
Iron deficiency means less oxygen is being delivered to the hands and feet. Some people may feel the cold more easily in general or have cold hands and feet.
- Frequent infections
Because iron is needed for a healthy immune system, lack of it may cause you to catch more illnesses than usual.
Tips On Treating Iron Deficiency
Enough consumption of foods that are rich in iron can help you prevent iron deficiency. But if you notice such symptoms you can get yourself tested for iron deficiency and the doctor may add iron supplements to your diet. Some of the best food sources of iron include- leafy greens especially spinach, legumes, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, tofu, broccoli, nuts, and seeds.
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