Iron is an important nutrient that is required for optimal growth and development of the body. According to the World Health Organization, iron is an essential mineral and is important for bodily functions such as oxygen transport, DNA synthesis, and muscle metabolism. Therefore getting enough iron every day can have a great impact on your energy and mood levels.
Iron deficiency is the most common type of anemia, and it occurs when your body doesn’t get enough iron.
Hence, an iron deficiency can interfere with your mental and physical activities.
Iron is needed in our body to make hemoglobin, the protein in your red blood cells help you to carry oxygen to the tissues. When there isn’t enough iron in your bloodstream, the rest of your body gets proper oxygen as it requires.
What Causes Iron Deficiency?
According to Dr. Shailesh Sahay, Internal Medicine, General Physician at Max Hospital Gurgaon, “Iron Deficiency is caused due to lack of iron in the diet or due to inflammatory bowel movements, inadequate iron intake, elevated iron requirements, or internal bleeding. While sometimes even if you are taking enough iron but it is not getting absorbed in the body can lead to iron deficiency and anemia later on.”
“Acute blood loss due to internal bleeding, bleeding during periods or in surgery or trauma can cause a loss of hemoglobin in the body but not anemia. Severe diseases like kidney disease , liver disease or chronic disease can also cause low hemoglobin. Therefore if you feel any sign of Iron deficiency then you must go for a blood test to rule out hemolysis and anemia, thus according to the cause it can be treated. Moreover, if you have iron deficiency, you need to take more supplements of iron in your diet”, he said.
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What Are The Symptoms?
Dr. Sahay said, “Signs and symptoms of the condition may vary according to the severity of the disease, age, and other health factors. When the level of hemoglobin in the body drops down below 7, then the symptoms might show up.”
The common signs and symptoms of iron deficiency may include:
“You feel tired and deprived of energy if you have a lack of iron in your body. However, people ignore tiredness as a symptom of iron deficiency and think of it as a part of a regular, hectic life but it is an early sign of iron deficiency,” said Dr. Sahay.
Moreover, most people suffering from this problem might also experience weakness, crankiness, and inability to concentrate.
Shortness Of Breath
According to Dr. Sahay, when your body is unable to transport oxygen to muscles and tissues effectively, it tries to get more oxygen which increases your breathing rate. So, in case you feel out of breath while doing daily tasks, then it might be due to iron deficiency.
Dr. Sahay said, “The most common noticeable symptom of iron deficiency is paleness. The lack of hemoglobin in red blood cells forces your skin to lose its red color. Hence, you could have an iron deficiency if you notice paleness in your face, lower inner eyelids, or even nails.”
Swollen Mouth And Tongue
If you notice swelling and soreness of the tongue and mouth, get your iron levels checked, said Dr. Sahay.
Cracks at the corners of the mouth, mouth ulcers, burning feeling in the mouth and dry mouth are also some common signs of this condition.
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If you get frequent headaches then your hemoglobin levels might below that can interrupt the oxygen supply to the brain, causing the blood vessels to swell and create pressure. Therefore, this can lead to headaches and lightheadedness.
Dry Skin And Hair
The lack of hemoglobin can reduce the amount of oxygen available to the cells that are responsible for healthy hair growth. So, it may lead to hair loss and can also make your skin dry and lead to skin problems.
If you have iron deficiency in your body, your body fails to transport oxygen properly and your heart works harder to carry oxygen to different parts of the body. This can lead to irregular heartbeat or make your heartbeat abnormally fast. In the worst cases, it can even lead to heart failure according to reports.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Iron deficiency can cause an unpleasant, crawling, and itchy feeling in your feet and legs. This could be a sign of iron deficiency.
Some studies have also found that a lack of iron in the body may be associated with restless leg syndrome. Restless leg syndrome is when you feel a strong urge to move your legs while resting.