Millions of people suffer from iron deficiency and do not even know it. Iron is an essential mineral that helps the body produce red blood cells. Without enough iron, the body cannot produce enough hemoglobin, which means that not enough oxygen gets to the tissues and organs. This can cause a wide range of symptoms, many of which are easily mistaken for other conditions.
If you are concerned that you might be iron deficient, look out for these ten signs and symptoms:
- Fatigue and Tiredness: This is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency. If you constantly feel tired, even after a good night's sleep, it could be a sign that your iron levels are low.
- Pale Skin: Iron is responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood, so the skin can take on a pale appearance when levels are low.
- Shortness of Breath: Not getting enough oxygen to the muscles can cause shortness of breath and difficulty breathing during exercise.
- Heart Palpitations: When the heart is not getting enough oxygen, it may start to race or feel like it is fluttering.
- Headaches: Iron deficiency can lead to headaches or dizziness.
- Cold Hands and Feet: Poor circulation from iron deficiency can cause extremities to feel cold, even in warm weather.
- Brittle Nails: Iron helps the body produce keratin, which is what nails are made of. So, if your nails are brittle or spoon-shaped, it could be a sign of iron deficiency.
- Craving Non-Food Items: A strange craving for non-food items like ice, dirt, or paper could be a sign of anemia caused by iron deficiency.
- Infertility: Low iron levels can cause infertility in both men and women.
- Restless legs syndrome (RLS): RLS is a condition that causes an irresistible urge to move the legs, often accompanied by tingling, crawling, or burning sensations. It can be a symptom of iron deficiency.
How is Iron Deficiency Diagnosed?
Iron deficiency is diagnosed through a blood test. Your doctor will check your hemoglobin levels to see if you are anemic. If you are, he or she will likely order other tests to determine the cause of the anemia. If you are unsure if you are suffering from iron deficiency, talk to your doctor about getting tested.
Treatment of Iron Deficiency
If you are diagnosed with iron deficiency, your doctor will likely prescribe an iron supplement to help boost your levels. Sometimes, your doctor may also recommend dietary changes or other treatments depending on the cause of the anemia.
Iron supplements typically come in pill form and are taken once or twice a day. It is essential to take them with food to avoid nausea and vomiting.
Most people with iron deficiency will begin to feel better after taking supplements for a few weeks. However, it is vital to continue taking them until your levels are back to normal to avoid any further health complications.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you must see a doctor check your iron levels. Iron deficiency is easily treated with supplements, and catching it early can help prevent more severe health problems.