Wellness and Lifestyle

What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Last updated on October 20th, 2022 at 07:29 am

Iron deficiency anemia occurs when there isn’t enough iron in the body. This condition may be caused by a lack of dietary iron or blood loss from menstruation or childbirth.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron is one of the most essential nutrients, which is usually present in red blood cells. Iron helps in building immunity, boosts haemoglobin level, prevents anaemia and contributes to the overall functioning of the human body. An insufficient intake of iron can lead to iron deficiency. Low levels of red blood cells and haemoglobin can result from iron deficiency. 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 anaemia, you need to understand the need to consume enough iron.

13 Disturbing Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies worldwide. It affects millions of people each year.

Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency vary depending on the severity of the anaemia, 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.

Total Time: 25 minutes

  1. 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.

  2. Restless legs

    Restless legs syndrome is a condition in which you cannot 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.

  3. Shortness of breath

    Iron deficiency causes low levels of haemoglobin, which carries 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Pale skin

    Haemoglobin 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.

  6. Unusual Tiredness

    Feeling exhausted 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 haemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells. Haemoglobin helps carry oxygen around the body. When your body doesn’t have enough haemoglobin, 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.

  7. Heart Palpitations

    Noticeable heartbeats, also known as heart palpitations, can be another symptom of iron-deficiency anaemia. Haemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that helps transport oxygen around the body. In iron deficiency, low levels of haemoglobin 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 are a lot less common. You would have to suffer from iron deficiency for a long time to experience them.

  8. Swelling and Soreness of the Tongue and Mouth

    Sometimes just looking inside or around your mouth can give you a sign of whether you are suffering from iron-deficiency anaemia. Signs include when your tongue becomes swollen, pale, or strangely smooth. Low haemoglobin 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.

  9. 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 anaemia.

  10. 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.

  11. Feeling anxious

    The lack of oxygen available to body tissues in iron deficiency may cause feelings of anxiety. However, this improves or resolves as iron levels are corrected.

  12. 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 or have icy hands and feet.

  13. Frequent infections

    Because iron is needed for a healthy immune system, lack of it may cause you to catch more illnesses than usual.

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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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