Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency:What to Know

Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency:What to Know

Iron deficiency is a condition caused by a lack of iron in the diet or an inability to absorb an adequate amount of iron from foods in the diet. This can lead to low levels of iron in the body. Iron deficiency is relatively common in older adults, usually because of a choice of foods that are poor sources of iron. It can also occur in infants, adolescents, and pregnant women because of the heavy demands for iron with rapid body growth, and is also common in premenopausal women because of regular loss of iron with menstrual periods. Knowing the signs and symptoms of iron deficiency can be your answer.

Iron deficiency is a nutritional disorder which has spread all over the world. According to research, more than 2 billion people in the world suffer from an iron deficiency. Reduced amount of iron will lead to impair body functions, symptoms of iron deficiency can be seen before it leads to iron deficiency anemia.

A common effect of iron deficiency is anemia, which may be accompanied by feelings of weakness. Iron is needed for the hemoglobin, of red blood cells and makes it possible for the blood cells to transport sixty times as much oxygen as they could without iron. It is possible to have an iron deficiency condition while eating iron-rich foods as the body absorbs only a portion of the iron in foods eaten, which depends upon the form in which the iron occurs in food.

Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency

Most physical signs and symptoms do not appear unless iron deficiency anemia occurs. Someone with early stages of iron deficiency may have no signs or symptoms. Among children, iron deficiency is seen most often between six months and three years of age due to rapid growth and inadequate intake of dietary iron. There is an iron deficiency called latent iron deficiency, which is also known as iron deficiency without anemia, but it will develop an iron deficiency anemia if they are not treated with an iron supplementation. Most of the signs and symptoms are similar to each other.

Different factors to why iron deficiency can happen

Iron deficiency can occur because of eating an inadequate diet, Inflammatory bowel disease,  Chronic blood loss caused by heavy menstrual periods, bleeding in the urine, excessive blood donation, a parasitic hookworm infestation, and poor absorption of iron as a result from the surgical removal of part or all of the stomach or intestine.

Good to know symptoms

Mild iron deficiency may not cause any symptoms, but when it has progressed to actual anemia, there can be extreme fatigue, a feeling of tiredness. Iron is essential to produce hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells. Hemoglobin transport the oxygen to tissues. When the body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin, less oxygen reaches body tissues, it causes fatigue.

The weakness of the body: Lack of muscular strength, which can decrease the ability to exercise.

Chest pain and increased heartbeat: the heart has to work extra hard to transport oxygen, it will cause irregular heart rate, develop heart murmurs and hypertrophy of the heart and finally lead to exhaustion.

Shortness of breath: When hemoglobin levels drop in the body, oxygen level also decreases. As a result, the rate of breathing will increase in order to compensate for the body’s oxygen requirement.

A headache, dizziness/lightheadedness: lack of hemoglobin will cause oxygen deficiency in the brain and it will lead to dilation of blood vessels and create pressure in the brain.

Cold hands and feet: Less oxygen is delivered to the hand and feet, so this will cause them to feel cold.

Pica disorder: Pica is the consumption of substances with no significant nutritional value such as soil, soap or ice.

The poor condition of the skin, nails or hair, including hair loss,

Delay in superficial wound healing.

Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia. Children with iron deficiency are having slow cognitive and social development. Impaired immune functions, which increases susceptibility to infection.

Irritability: Abnormal or excessive sensitivity to stimuli, twitching of the muscles.

Pagophagia: This is a compulsive consumption of ice or iced drinks. It is a form of pica disorder.

Restless legs syndrome: It is a strong urge to move the legs at rest. It is usually worse at night and, therefore can make it hard to sleep. People with this syndrome may have depression. Occasionally arms may also be affected.

Other signs to look out for

The pale skin coloring of the inside of the lower eyelids, face or nails, as well as it can appear all over the body. Hair thinning and hair loss, because the hair receives less oxygen from the blood which can lead to dry and damaged hair. Brittle nails or spoon-shaped nails can occur where the middle of the nails dips and the edges are raised to give a rounded appearance like a spoon. Inflammation or soreness of the tongue. People who have had a severe iron deficiency for a prolonged period, sometimes complain of trouble swallowing or have a sore mouth or tongue.

Use these for immediate relief

According to research, Women between the ages of nineteen and fifty are advised to get 18 mg of iron daily, during pregnancy, and women fifty-one years and older need only about 8 mg of iron daily.

Eat a well-balanced diet that includes lean meat, green vegetables, beans, fruits, and whole grain bread. Pregnant women and growing children are susceptible to an insufficient dietary iron intake. It is advised for pregnant women to take an iron supplement.

Have orange juice with your meal or eat a few slices of orange to finish off your meals. Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C which enhances iron absorption.

If you have heavy menstrual periods and also suffering fatigue, You will have to see your doctor. You’ll probably need to get extra iron in your diet, and your doctor will want to make sure that the bleeding is normal and that there is no underlying problem.


Although you may know the signs and symptoms of iron deficiency, don’t try to treat it on your own. Many women know the signs such as fatigue around their menstrual periods and will assume that getting extra iron is all they have to do. Iron will improve your levels of red blood cells, but it won’t correct the underlying problem. If you have abnormal bleeding, such as blood in your stool or excessively heavy menstrual periods, see your doctor immediately.  The main test used to diagnose iron deficiency is a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC). If there is still doubt after this test, you will still have to get further testing done.


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By |2018-12-11T06:40:50+00:00May 14th, 2018|Health tips|0 Comments

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