Did you know that iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the United States? Did you know that women have the greatest risk for iron deficiency? Learn about the signs and symptoms of iron deficiency.
What is iron Deficiency?
Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia. Iron deficiency anemia occurs when your body does not have enough iron, which is very important to maintain ones health.
Iron helps ones body to get oxygen throughout ones body. Hemoglobin, which is a part of the red blood cells, carries oxygenated blood throughout ones body. However, if we have an iron deficiency, our body produces fewer and smaller red blood cells, which then causes the body to have less hemoglobin and less oxygen in ones body.
What Causes Iron Deficiency?
Iron deficiency is caused by either and increased need for iron or for a decrease in iron intake or absorption. See the CDC’s website for a complete chart on the causes of Iron deficiency.
Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
According to the CDC , when our bodies have too little iron, body functions can become impaired. However, most of the physical signs and symptoms of iron deficiency do not become apparent unless iron deficiency anemia occurs. The CDC also states that those within the early stages of iron deficiency may not show any signs or symptoms. According to the CDC , the following are symptoms of Iron Deficiency.
- Feeling tired and weak
- Decreased performance in work or school
- Slow cognitive and social development during childhood
- Trouble maintaining body temperature (feeling cold)
- Decreased immune function, which increases ones susceptibility to infections
- An inflamed tongue
There are additional symptoms according to WebMD such as:
- Feeling dizzy
- Being grumpy and/or cranky
- Pale skin
- Feeling short of breath
Additional symptoms reported from the Mayo Clinic include:
- Cold hands and feet
- Brittle nails
- Fast heartbeat
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt, or starch
- Poor appetite (especially in infants and children)
- Tingling or crawling feeling in your legs (Restless Leg Syndrome)
Iron deficiency is diagnosed by a blood test that is ordered by your physician. The blood test looks for the following according to the Mayo Clinic
- Red blood cell size and color
- Hematocrit levels – this is the percentage of your blood volume made up by red blood cells
- Hemoglobin levels – if your hemoglobin is below the normal range, anemia is usually indicated.
- Ferritin levels – this is the protein that helps to store iron in ones body
If you, or someone you know, are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, talk to your primary care physician. Iron deficiency anemia is not something one can self-diagnose or treat according to the Mayo Clinic . It is important to see your doctor with any questions or concerns you may have about iron deficiency anemia. For more research online look at the Mayo Clinic , WebMD , the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.