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11 Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia

Anemia is a deficiency diseases caused due to low levels of the mineral iron in our body. Iron is extremely important for the synthesis of a protein called hemoglobin. This protein is present in the red blood cells of our blood. Hemoglobin helps the blood to carry oxygen to various parts of our body. It thus acts as a vehicle for transportation of oxygen to our body parts. The article talks about the iron deficiency anemia.

A deficiency of iron would mean low level of hemoglobin in the blood. If hemoglobin in our blood is less, the oxygen carrying capacity of our blood is reduced. In turn, in less oxygen reaches the various parts of your body, the body will not work efficiently.

Although anemia is caused due to a great deal of other reasons also, iron-deficiency is the most common cause of anemia in a person. Let us briefly look at the causes of iron deficiency anemia.

Causes of Iron Deficiency Leading to Anemia:

Common causes of iron deficiency include

  • Inadequate iron intake due to poor diet or restrictive diets,
  • Inflammatory bowel disease,
  • Increased requirements during pregnancy and blood loss through heavy periods or internal bleeding.

Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia:

Anemia that is caused due to deficiency of Iron has the following symptoms depending upon the level of deficiency in a person:

1. Fatigue:

If you’ve made some physical exertion and feel tired after such kind of work, you are bound to feel tired. However, if your body gets easily tired whether or not you have done any work that needs physical force or energy, it is a sign of iron deficiency. The reason behind this is that low iron leads to low level of hemoglobin in our blood. Hemoglobin transports oxygen to the organs of our body. If you have low hemoglobin, your body organs are not receiving sufficient amount of oxygen thus feeling tired and exhausted sooner than usual.

2. Pale Skin:

You may have any complexion but if you have low levels of iron then your skin may appear pale. Pale skin and pale coloring of the inside of the lower eyelids are other common signs of iron deficiency . This happens naturally because iron is responsible for imparting the red color to the Red Blood Cells in our blood. Low levels of iron naturally means low levels of red blood cells and thus paler skin.

The sure test to determine if you have a pale skin is to check underneath your lower eyelids. Doctors examine this region to check the level of redness under the lower eyelid. Less redness in that region implies iron deficiency. Paleness is more commonly seen in moderate or severe cases of anemia.

3. Shortness of Breath:

Shortness of breath is a condition in which a person experiences strenuous breathing. It is when the breathing becomes a labored task. It may be closely related to the feeling of suffocation. If your body does not get enough oxygen due to low levels of hemoglobin, you are bound to feel out of breath to soon. It also means your muscles won’t get enough oxygen to do normal activities, such as walking thus making you feel like you’ve run out of oxygen in your body.

4. Headaches and Dizziness due to Iron Deficiency:

Iron Deficiency may cause frequent headaches to a few people. This is a less common symptom. We have established that less iron means less oxygen to our body parts. Even the brain receives very less amount of oxygen. The blood vessels in the brain can swell due to low oxygen, causing pressure and headaches.

5. Heart Palpitations due to Iron Deficiency:

If you are able notice your heartbeats than it is a sign of iron deficiency. If your hemoglobin levels are low, your heart needs to work extra to carry oxygen. This can lead to irregular heartbeats and your heart may feel abnormally fast. In extreme cases it can lead to an enlarged heart, heart murmur or heart failure.

6. Dry and Damaged Hair and Skin:

When less oxygen is supplied to the parts of our body like the skin and scalp, they become dry and weak. This could also be a cause of hair loss in severe cases of deficiency. The cells of each part of our body need oxygen to grow and multiple. Lack of oxygen only means a disruption in the normal cycle of the cells which causes the hair and skin to become weak.

7. Changes in the Tongue:

Whenever you visit your doctor with complaints like the above, he/she may want to check your tongue. A pale, abnormally smooth and swollen tongue indicates lack of iron in blood. This happens due to low levels of hemoglobin and myoglobin. 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 mouth ulcers and dry mouth problems in severe stages.

8. Restless Legs:

Have you ever felt the urge to simply move your legs abnormally while they are at rest? You may feel them itchy or experience a sense of tingling feeling. It usually happens while you are ready to sleep. Your legs may shake involuntarily as well. All this can be attributed to iron deficiency anemia.

9. Brittle Finger Nails due to Iron Deficiency:

This is a very less common symptom in which your nails become extremely brittle. This phenomenon is termed as koilonychia. Your nails will chip or break easily and may also begin to look like a spoon. This symptom can be noticed at only very advanced stages of deficiency and is hence very rare.

10. Cold Feet:

Your feet begin to feel very cold and they also ache due to this. You may notice that you will want to cover your feet up with more bed sheets while sleeping. This is a symptom anemia caused due to iron deficiency in your body.

11. Cravings for Strange Things:

This is especially visible in children. They feel the urge to eat chalk, clay and such inedible items. This is called “pica”. This is a symptom of iron deficiency.

Treatment for Iron Deficiency Anemia:

When you go to your doctor with complaints regarding any of the above symptoms, your doctor will first ask you to take a blood test. In the test he will check the level of hemoglobin. If the level of hemoglobin is low, you are suffering with Iron Deficiency Anemia and the doctor will prescribe you with medicines that contain the mineral iron.

In order to recover from this situation more quickly, read up the list of foods that are Rich In Iron. Consuming food items that contain iron is always better than consuming medicines to remedy your problem. Remember, medicines are chemical supplements whereas the food items are those things that are available in nature to impart you these specific nutrients. You can follow a diet plan designed for Anemia Patients.

Shabnam Vandeliwala

Venturing into writing is my second most admired hobby after litigating in courts. An advocate by profession, writing gives me immense sense of satisfaction especially in the time that I'm free from other work.

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