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Iron deficiency: symptoms, causes and treatment methods


 Iron deficiency

Iron is an important and necessary element for the body, as the body needs it to make hemoglobin, a hormone found in red blood cells that works to transport oxygen throughout the body.

Iron deficiency: symptoms, causes and treatment methods, Anemia
Iron deficiency: symptoms, causes and treatment methods

In the event that there is a small amount of hemoglobin, this means that not enough oxygen reaches the muscles and tissues to carry out their required work effectively, which is called anemia. 

Symptoms vary from person to person and this depends on several factors such as age, health status, and severity of the anemia. 

Young and old are affected, and the chance of infection increases in pregnant women.

Read: Vitamin D deficiency

Iron deficiency symptoms

  • extreme tiredness

You need energy to carry out your daily activities, and this energy comes from the oxygen that is distributed to your muscles and tissues.

 But when iron deficiency occurs, this means that not enough hemoglobin is produced, which distributes oxygen throughout the body, and therefore less oxygen reaches the muscles.

 This makes you feel abnormally tired, even if you did not do any activities, and fatigue may accompany a lack of focus.

  • pale skin

Pale skin is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency.

 The hemoglobin in the blood cells makes the blood red.

 The lack of the right amount of iron makes this hemoglobin less red or pinkish. 

This is why the skin becomes paler and cooler in people who have iron deficiency.

 Usually, the doctor notices iron deficiency after looking at the patient’s skin, and to confirm the deficiency, he asks the patient to take a blood test.

 As for children who have iron deficiency, their entire body is pale, or only one area has pallor, such as:

  • gums.
  •  the face. 
  • nails.
  •  inside the eyelids.
  •  inside the lips.

If you want to examine yourself before going to the doctor, just pull the eyelid down and look inside if it is red, then you do not suffer from iron deficiency. 

Read: Vitamin B12 Deficiency

But if you find it in pale pink or yellow, you have a deficiency in iron levels, and this is the only way to detect locally on people with dark skin.

  • hard breathing

Hemoglobin works to transport oxygen to the tissues and muscles of the body, and when the level of hemoglobin decreases after iron deficiency, it results in a decrease in the amount of oxygen that the body needs to do its work, such as walking, for example. 

When you try to get more oxygen, your breathing rate increases, which is why you feel short of breath.

 If you notice shortness of breath when doing daily life, such as climbing stairs or walking unusually, then you may have an iron deficiency.

  • headache

Iron deficiency can cause headaches, especially in women. Although headaches have many causes, there is a relationship between the function of dopamine and the estrogen hormone in women.

 The frequent cause of headaches may be a lack of iron in the body, especially since the percentage of oxygen that reaches the head is not enough.

  • Heart palpitations

When iron stores are deficient, the heart has to make a greater effort to deliver oxygen to all parts of the body to compensate for the deficiency, and this leads to rapid and abnormal beats. 

If this condition is left untreated, it may lead to greater problems in extreme cases, such as an enlarged heart, or heart failure.

  • Damaged hair and dry skin

In the case of a lack of iron stores, the hair and skin will not get enough oxygen to renew skin cells and hair growth, and this works on dryness and roughness of the skin, and also makes the hair damaged and lifeless, and in severe cases it works on hair loss a lot.

  • Pain and swelling in the tongue and mouth

If the tongue appears swollen, smooth, or pale, with a feeling of pain, this may indicate iron deficiency. It also shows signs in the mouth that confirm iron deficiency, such as:

  • mouth ulcers.
  • Cracks or cuts in the corners of the mouth.
  • dry lips.
  • Burning sensation in the mouth.

  • restless legs

It is a syndrome in which a person feels a strong desire to move the legs while sitting or sleeping, and it also causes a sensation of itching in the feet and legs, and this feeling is annoying and makes sleeping difficult. 

The exact cause of this syndrome has not been identified, but it has been found that 25% of people with iron deficiency anemia have this condition.

  • brittle nails

This is one of the uncommon symptoms. At that time, the nails are cracked and break easily, and they look like a spoon, meaning that the middle of it is sunken down and the edges are visible to the top.

 Spoon nails are a rare sign that occurs in only 5% of people with iron deficiency, and it usually appears in people who have severe and severe anemia caused by iron deficiency.

  • Craving strange things

The affected person may have a strange case of craving for strange things, such as eating dirt, wax, snow, chalk, etc; This usually happens during pregnancy.

  • cold hands and feet

Because of the lack of oxygen to the extremities, the person feels coldness in his hands and feet constantly and abnormally.

  • persistent illness

Iron deficiency increases the chance of constantly getting viral and bacterial infections, because the immune system depends on iron to accomplish its function of protecting the body from infection.

  • Depression

Iron deficiency anemia accompanies depression in adults, and is especially evident in pregnant women with iron deficiency.

Iron deficiency causes

  1. Pregnancy, which requires consuming more iron.
  2. Do not eat foods that contain iron.
  3. Blood loss due to internal bleeding.
  4. Bleeding in the stomach or intestines, due to a stomach ulcer, stomach cancer, or hemorrhoids, or taking too many anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin.

Iron deficiency treatment

If you notice that the symptoms we mentioned or some of them are present in you, then you should go to the doctor to confirm the lack of iron, who will usually ask you to take a blood test to confirm, and then put a treatment plan for you to ensure the return of hemoglobin to normal levels.

First: It is important to eat foods that contain natural sources of iron, which are:

  • Green vegetables such as spinach. 
  • Red meat and chicken. 
  • Legumes such as beans and peas. 
  • Dried fruits such as apricots and raisins. 
  • sea food. 
  • Nuts.

Second, take iron supplements

Iron supplements are taken only if your doctor recommends it or if you have a very low iron level and food does not cover the deficiency alone, but you should know that taking iron supplements has side effects that you will feel, which are:

  • Heartburn or stomach pain. Constipation or diarrhea.
  •  Nausea or vomiting.
  •  Stool becomes black.

If you feel any of these symptoms, tell your doctor to prescribe another type of iron supplement for you.

Third: You should avoid some foods that prevent iron absorption and interfere with the task of the nutritional supplement during the treatment period, which are:

  • Foods that contain fiber.
  •  Caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and Nescafe.
  • Milk and dairy products.

Read: Anemia symptoms and treatment