10 signs you may have Iron Deficiency

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A man tired because of iron deficiency, symptom of iron deficiency

If you’re tired more than usual or finding it difficult to remember simple things – you might wonder if iron has something to do with it. Iron can make all the difference between making you feel  like you are in seventh heaven or downright miserable….especially if you’re a woman. 

Getting enough iron is essential, it is a requirement of the body for growth and development. Our bodies  use iron to produce haemoglobin that carries oxygen from the lungs and is  transported   throughout the body.  When you’re deficient in iron, your body won’t get sufficient oxygen, leaving you exhausted even without doing much work. 

Apart from this, there are many things that iron deficiency can cause in your body. 

Here are the 10 signs you may have iron deficiency 

1. Extreme tiredness 

Extreme tiredness is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency. This occurs due to the body’s inability to produce enough haemoglobin, a component that carries oxygen in your body. While resting might provide temporary relief, the feeling of tiredness will come back irrespective. After all, people with iron deficiency are also called “tired-blood”. 

2. Shortness of breath 

Since haemoglobin enables oxygen to be carried  throughout the body, iron deficiency would mean the body isn’t receiving and transporting enough oxygen to your muscles and tissues. As a result, even with the slightest physical activities, your breathing rate will increase causing shortness of breath. 

3. Headaches 

In the context of blood disorders, headaches would generally mean a lack of oxygen in the brain. When we are deficient in iron, our brain receives less oxygen, as a result of which, we experience headaches. The arteries in the brain start to swell, causing pain. It is also possible that, along with headaches, there can be concurrent dizziness and lightheadedness. 

4. Heavy periods in women 

Iron deficiency is the number 1 cause of heavy periods in women. When iron deficiency enhances, it causes anaemia, a condition characterised by a lack of healthy red blood cells, which can cause heavy blood loss, depleting your body’s iron stores. Women with anaemia are considered to be the worst affected. This is why women with heavy periods are often screened for iron deficiency anaemia

5. Irregular heartbeats 

Irregular heartbeats or palpitations (rapid heartbeats)  that you can feel in your chest, neck and throat. Sometimes, it feels as if your heart stops, but it lasts only a few seconds. They occur when the heart has to work twice as hard to get oxygen circulated, and lack of iron would only make it more difficult. 

6. Loss of appetite 

Poor appetite is highly prevalent among iron deficiency anaemia patients. A study found that this is due to iron’s influence on the appetite-regulating hormone ghrelin and leptin.  Children, in particular, are at increased risk of being iron deficient because their required intake is often not sufficed by dietary sources.  

7. Pale Skin 

Because haemoglobin gives blood its red colour, lower levels of iron would make it look less red, causing paleness of the skin. 

8. Brittle nails 

Brittle nails are another common symptom of iron deficiency. One thing to remember is when you notice both paleness and brittle nails together, it is most often a sign of iron deficiency anaemia.

9. Soreness in the mouth 

Soreness in the mouth is another symptom of iron deficiency. They are often painful and cause trouble when eating or drinking. 

10. Depression and feeling low 

Iron deficiency anaemia is also associated with increased depression in adults, especially in pregnant women. A study on maternal depression in pregnancy suggests that iron deficiency is associated with higher levels of depression during pregnancy and may be an important risk factor for maternal depression. 

Not sure what to do next? 

If you notice any of these symptoms and find it challenging to manage your concerns, get advice and professional help from our doctors.