We tend to ignore a lot of symptoms that act as warning signs. The awarness of these symptoms can help you watch out for iron deficiency in your body.
Iron plays an important role in keeping the body energetic. Given the fact that it forms a major component in the blood, which ensures every single part of your body gets oxygen, the lack of iron can have a huge impact on your health. Apart from leading to fatigue and leaving you feeling dull, it can also result in rare conditions like Pica.
As MayoClinic states, iron deficiency leads to anemia, a condition where your body doesn't have enough red blood cells. Our body requires a certain level of iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to the muscles and tissues, the lack of which leads to anemia.
Pregnant women and women who experience heavy bleeding are at a higher risk of developing anemia. It is also observed that the symptoms are usually left unnoticed at the initial stages. However, it can worsen over time. According to the Office on Women’s Health, one out of six pregnant women suffers from this condition. About five percent of women with heavy menstrual flow also experience iron deficiency anemia.
Here are a few symptoms that you should watch out for:
The body requires sufficient levels of iron to produce an adequate amount of hemoglobin that helps in the transportation of oxygen around the body. Low levels of hemoglobin will lead to excess stress to the heart due to the extra work that is required to supply oxygen. This leads to the irregular, noticeable and abnormal heartbeats. In extreme cases, it may result in heart failure.
Another symptom observed in people suffering from iron deficiency is Restless Leg Syndrome. The affected person tends to become restless and channel the restlessness into their legs. They develop an irresistible urge to move the legs to relieve themselves from the sensation." Itchy," "pins and needles," or "creepy crawly" feeling in the legs are usually observed. The sensations are said to be worse while resting.
Since feeling tired may be considered usual in our busy city lives, this symptom is often overlooked. However, more than half the people suffering from iron deficiency are bound to experience extreme tiredness. The lack of hemoglobin in the blood due to iron deficiency leads to overworking of the heart that struggles to supply oxygen to all parts of the body. This causes tiredness, resulting in poor productivity and concentration.
Low levels of hemoglobin in the blood stop the brain from receiving sufficient oxygen, which leads to headaches and lightheadedness. The blood vessels in the brain tend to swell up due to the lack of oxygen. Though headaches are very common for a lot of ailments, frequent headaches along with dizziness can indicate a deficiency of iron in the body.
Observing your mouth and tongue is a good way to understand if you are suffering from anemia. Swollen, inflamed, pale or even skin that's strangely smooth are all signs of anemia to watch out for. While low levels of hemoglobin can cause the tongue to become pale, the low levels of myoglobin, a protein in the blood supports the tongue muscles, can cause the inflammation of the tongue. Mouth ulcers, dry mouth, and sore red cracks are signs to spot the deficiency.
Hemoglobin responsible for the rosiness and blush of your skin, however, the lack of it turns the skin pale. It will also result in pink or yellow color on the inside of the lower eyelids. Paleness can be observed all over the body ranging from face, gums, nails, and even lips. This is caused by the lower levels of hemoglobin in the blood that is responsible for the red color of the blood.
The correct supply of oxygen is important for the proper functioning of the body. However, an iron deficiency that leads to the insufficient oxygen supply disrupts the proper functioning of the body. When deprived of the right amount of oxygen the skin tends to become weak and dry. Hair fall is another severe symptom that is often observed in people with worse cases of iron deficiency.
As explained earlier, a low level of hemoglobin leads to an insufficient supply of oxygen which means that the muscles do not get a sufficient amount of oxygen to function properly. Thus a simple walk would require the body to work harder for more oxygen. This results in an increased breathing rate. This symptom can be observed easily and is also one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency anemia.
Insufficient iron in the body can lead to the dysfunction of various body parts. Nails also start showing these signs. The lack of sufficient oxygen will cause the nails to peel off, and in extreme cases, break off even with minimal pressure.
Pica is less known symptoms of iron deficiency. This condition causes people to develop strange, unusual cravings like mud, chalk, dirt, ice, etc. It's a temporary condition that is known to affect children and pregnant women.
It is important to watch out for these symptoms. However, care must be taken to ensure the right amount of iron in the body. According to experts, women aged 19–50 would require 18mg of iron while adults older than 51 would require 8 mg. Pregnant women would require 27mg. Inclusion of iron-filled foods such as seafood and poultry can help maintain the iron level in the body.