Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

Iron Deficiency Causes: What Are They?

The most common cause of iron deficiency is not eating enough foods rich in iron. One of the main reasons why people suffer from iron deficiency is because they do not eat enough vegetables or fruits with high amounts of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps absorb more iron into your body. Another reason why people suffering from iron deficiency have low blood counts is due to poor diet habits. These include:

Not drinking enough water

Eating too much meat, fish, eggs and dairy products

Drinking alcohol (especially red wine) instead of water

What Is Anemia?

Anemia is a condition where there is no normal amount of red blood cells in the body. Normally when you have anemia, your hemoglobin concentration decreases. Hemoglobin is one of the proteins that carry oxygenated blood through your veins. When hemoglobin concentration drops, it means less oxygen reaches your tissues. If you have anemia, your body cannot use oxygen effectively. You may experience fatigue, weakness and headaches.

Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency

If you suffer from iron deficiency, you will feel tiredness and weakness especially if you exercise regularly. Your heart rate may increase as well as your breathing becomes shallow and irregular.

Since your body is not receiving enough oxygen, you may experience shortness of breath. Other possible symptoms are:

Headaches

Dizziness

Pale skin color

Feeling restless and irritable all the time

In severe cases of iron deficiency anemia, your chest may feel tight when you breath. You may also start to hear strange noises that you can’t quite identify, have a fast heartbeat, or have restless sleep.

If you experience any of these symptoms, make sure to see a doctor immediately.

The Iron Deficiency Test

There are several ways to test if you have an iron deficiency. If your doctor suspects that you have iron deficiency anemia, they will give you a blood test to check the amount of hemoglobin in your blood and the number of red blood cells.

Normally, when someone has iron deficiency anemia, their red blood cells drop to around 750 million. A blood test can confirm the presence of anemia and the reason behind it. If you are not anemic but your doctor suspects that you have iron deficiency, they may also give you a blood test. It will be similar to the one mentioned above and may include a serum ferritin test. The ferritin test measures the amount of iron found in your liver.

If you have mild iron deficiency, your doctor might ask you to undergo a different kind of blood test. This test is called a serum iron test.

It measures the amount of ferritin in your blood. If your ferritin level is 15 or lower, you are at risk of iron deficiency.

The frequency of the tests depends on several factors like age, gender and other health conditions. Doctors usually measure the hemoglobin concentration every 4 months in women and every 6 months in men who have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia.

Sources & references used in this article:

Diagnosis and management of iron-deficiency anaemia by JD Cook – Best Practice & Research Clinical Haematology, 2005 – Elsevier

Iron deficiency anemia by S Killip, JM Bennett, MD Chambers – American family physician, 2007 – aafp.org

Evaluation and treatment of iron deficiency in adults by EM Ross – Nutrition in clinical care, 2002 – Wiley Online Library

Screening for iron deficiency by AC Wu, L Lesperance, H Bernstein – Policy Statement, 2016 – nccpeds.com

Iron deficiency in pregnancy, obstetrics, and gynecology by WF Baker Jr – Hematology/oncology clinics of North America, 2000 – Elsevier