Being deficient in iron is actually more common than you might have thought, and finding out that you are iron deficient is the first step in fixing the problem. There are lots of signs and symptoms that could indicate that you are deficient in iron, but you will need a test to confirm this.
In this article, we are going to tell you all about the different signs and symptoms that could be an indication of iron deficiency. This can help you to better understand what is happening to your body, and it could explain why you have been feeling a bit off.
Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency
If you think that you might have an iron deficiency, then you might be looking to find out more about the symptoms of it. We are going to talk about some of the most common iron deficiency symptoms below.
Something that often occurs in people with an iron deficiency is pale skin, especially under the eyes, nails, and palms of the hands. You might also notice that your hair has become more brittle, that your hair is breaking off, or that there is more hair than usual in your brush or on the floor.
Those with an iron deficiency can also experience thin or brittle nails that are flattened. These nails can also become spoon-shaped if the deficiency is not treated. Another thing that you can experience is pale mucous membranes, which you can notice if you pull down your lower eyelid or bottom lip.
An iron deficiency can also lead to a rapid pulse, fatigue and weakness, and poor immunity. Unfortunately, poor immunity can also lead to increased infections, like the cold and flu. The symptoms that you can get through an iron deficiency can get worse over time, and other symptoms can start to appear as the deficiency gets worse.
Something else that can occur over time is a decreased ability to exercise, chest pain during exercise, and a shortness of breath. You can also experience heart palpitations, poor concentration, and poor sleep. It can also affect your mood and make you feel more down than usual, and you can also get headaches.
Some people will experience things like a sore tongue and canker sores, and even restless leg syndrome. Another sign of iron deficiency that has gone untreated is a ringing in the head or ears and experiencing dizziness or faintness more regularly. Some people may even notice that their hands and feet are cold regularly or that they bruise more easily. Such bruises may even take longer to heal.
When it comes to appearance, you might even notice things like dry and dull hair. It can also be associated with a pale complexion, olive skin tone, and dark circles under the eyes. Some people also experience cracks at the corners of the mouth.
Are Women More Likely to Develop An Iron Deficiency?
Women are more likely to develop an iron deficiency, and this is due to a variety of factors that either only affect women or that affect women more than men. We will explain some of these factors in more detail below.
Puberty and Menstruation
Anemia and low iron levels are actually quite common in young women, as, for girls, puberty is a time of high iron deficiency. Growth spurts are often a cause of this, as iron needs are higher at this time. Other things that can lead to an iron deficiency are menstruation, pregnancy, and nursing.
Heavier periods or multiple pregnancies can make you even more likely to become deficient in iron. Older women are also more likely to have heavier periods, fibroids, or low thyroid function, which can all also be contributing factors. Iron absorption issues can also be associated with low stomach acid and gastrointestinal issues, like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and intestinal inflammation.
Something that you may not have known is that women who are involved in athletics are actually at a higher risk of an iron deficiency. Studies have shown that up to 35% of female athletes are iron deficient, and this is because athletes could have an increased demand for iron, increased iron loss, and maybe even impaired iron absorption.
An iron deficiency can end up decreasing athletic performance and causing fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating and poor circulation. Getting the right amount of iron will increase your oxygen uptake, reduce your heart rate, and decrease lactate concentrations during exercise.
Vegans and Vegetarians
People that are vegans or vegetarians should also be keeping an eye on their iron levels. This is due to the fact that iron often comes from things like red meat, which vegans are not consuming. As well as this, most vegan sources of iron and also sources of anti-nutrients.
An example of this is grains, which, unless they are sprouted, contain phytic acid, which is something that binds to iron. In addition to this, drinking tea with meals can bind iron, and certain greens, when eaten raw, are high in both iron and oxalate, which will bind more iron than you get from the food, leading to a net deficit.
Something that is really interesting is that the rate of anemia in pregnant women can be as high as 17 to 31%. Iron is essential for placenta development, the baby’s brain development, and iron stores for the baby’s first 6 months of life. Iron deficiency has also been linked to miscarriages, preterm labor, and postpartum depression. The risk of an iron deficiency can also increase with each pregnancy.
Testing for Iron Deficiency
In order to confirm that you have an iron deficiency, you will need to have a blood test. If your blood is tested, and you are between 40 and 50 ferritin, then you are well within the normal range. The majority of women will feel better at levels that are above 75. You should try to get your numbers along with your positive or negative result, as this can tell you more about your situation.