Iron deficiency occurs when you don’t absorb iron properly from foods or when you don’t consume enough of it. Iron is essential for building red blood cells (RBCs), which carry oxygen throughout your body. It’s also critical for immune function, DNA synthesis, and protein production. So, in short, in iron deficiency, you don’t have enough iron, and your organism will be affected by reducing your hemoglobin levels, impairing your immune function, affecting DNA synthesis, and slowing down the production of new proteins.
In a past article, we described the basics of iron deficiency. In that article, you can find the risk factors and causes of iron deficiency and an overview of the types of iron you can find in foods.
In this article, we’re continuing with the topic and will describe the signs and symptoms you’re likely to experience if you have iron deficiency. You will probably realize that most signs and symptoms of iron deficiency correspond to what we know as ferropenic anemia. However, there are a few others we can describe that are triggered independently from anemia.
Iron deficiency signs and symptoms
The most important signs and symptoms of iron deficiency are those of ferropenic anemia. However, the severity and number of symptoms you have depend on various factors. One of them is your individual threshold to experience anemia symptoms. Some patients have very low hemoglobin levels and still do not feel tired or out of breath. Others may have much higher levels and still experience severe symptoms when they are under normal levels.
Age is also an important modifying factor, as seniors are more likely to experience more severe symptoms. It also depends on how fast it develops, the severity of your condition, and if you have any baseline medical condition that aggravates your problem.
With that in mind, here are the most common signs and symptoms of iron deficiency:
1) Tiredness and fatigue
Fatigue is a pretty common sign of iron deficiency. In fact, it can be one of the first signs that you might have a blood-related health problem. The symptom can happen with conditions such as anemia or a low-level infection, which is also likely since iron-deficient patients have low immunity.
Fatigue can also be caused by other conditions like thyroid problems or chronic pain. Fatigue feels like being tired, but it is more severe tiredness that feels entirely out of place. You could feel the symptom after taking a nap or sleeping your night hours, which is caused by insufficient oxygen delivered by the blood.
Associated symptoms of tiredness and fatigue are difficulty focusing and irritability.