Iron deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia — a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.
As the name implies, iron deficiency anemia is due to insufficient iron. Without enough iron, your body can’t produce enough of a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen (hemoglobin). As a result, iron deficiency anemia may leave you tired and short of breath.
You can usually correct iron deficiency anemia with iron supplementation. Sometimes additional tests or treatments for iron deficiency anemia are necessary, especially if your doctor suspects that you’re bleeding internally.
When the body lacks iron to turn it into hemoglobin, the red blood cannot carry oxygenated blood to all the body tissues and this comes with many side-effects you might have noticed.
All people are subjected to iron deficiency anemia, although some are more prone to the disease than others.
The biggest risk group is the vegetarians and vegans, since red meat, the biggest iron source, is omitted from their nutrition. Also, blood donors are exposed to suffering from this disease since they share large quantities of iron with other people.
The same is true for women donors more than men, because of the pregnancy factor as well as the menstrual cycle.
About 3% of the men suffer from this disease but that is very little if compared to the 20% of women and 50% of pregnant women that have experienced iron deficiency anemia.
Iron deficiency anemia mostly impairs the oxygen supply to the cells. There are various factors that can affect the severity of the symptoms, beginning from mild symptoms like tiredness and escalating to more extreme ones.
Iron Deficiency Anemia Symptoms
- Feeling Extreme Fatigue and/or Weakness
If you’re sleeping more than usual, aren’t waking as rested as you normally do, or are experiencing over all low energy levels or muscle weakness for an extended period of time, you may need more iron.
- Headache, Dizziness or Light-headedness, Particularly When Standing
When we stand up we usually get head rushes, since the oxygen flow to the brain is interrupted. This is what actually triggers headaches and dizziness, and can even lead to fainting.
- Shortness of Breath
Just a simple stair climbing can cause irregular breathing, so you might want to turn to some cardio.
- Suffering From Frequent Infections
In case you have wounds that take a long time to heal, or cuts that get easily infected, you might be suffering from low hemoglobin levels and should elevate your iron levels.
- Cold Hands and Feet
Are you sick of people constantly exclaiming “Your hands/feet are so cold!”? Circulation issues affect your digits first, so if your fingers and toes are always freezing, or your nails turn purple, more iron, not more layers, may do the trick.
- Weak, Brittle Nails
The nails can be a huge indicator of iron deficiency in your body. Should you experience problems with fragile nails or sometimes hair, compensate for lost iron.
- Increased Heartbeat
The heartbeat is often related to anemia, and if you are lacking oxygen, you might experience heart pounding faster than usual.
- Unusual And Odd Cravings
The body develops cravings when it lacks something. Normally it is sugar cravings, but if you are experiencing severe needs of it and sometimes even stranger cravings like non-food items, such as chalk or dirt, you might be lacking iron in your system.
- Restless Leg Syndrome
This is actually a serious condition, and if you have experienced unsettling and a tingling sensation in your leg that won’t seem to go away- now you know the reason behind it.
- Suffering from Chest Pain
This is a sign that must never be ignored. It can mean not only and iron deficiency anemia, but cardiac arrest as well- so treat it as quickly as possible.
What Can You Do?
- Make sure to incorporate a healthy diet and to consume beneficial products.
- Include foods such as meat, eggs, fish and leafy greens or iron-fortified cereals, breads or milk, will increase the iron level in your body and improve your health.
- You can also take iron supplements and get the job done that way. Make sure to make a doctor’s appointment before taking anything iron-related on your own.
However, be mindful of the symptoms as well and react on time.