Signs of an iron deficiency

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I often talk about the importance of looking after your overall health which will help you cope better with your chronic pain or illness. If we are feeling good in ourselves, we feel more energised and able to cope with the challenges of living with daily pain. Other health issues are bound to crop up from time-to-time, and it will help if we can recognise what they may be so we know to do something about it. In this post I talk about iron deficiency – I tell you what it is, the symptoms to look out for, and how you can help prevent it. This post is a collaboration, for which for which I received a small payment.

What is an iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency is a condition whereby you do not have as many healthy red blood cells as you should. Red blood cells play the important role of carrying oxygen to the tissues in your body. Therefore any sort of deficiency is a problem.

If you do not have enough iron, your body will not be able to create enough of a substance within the red blood cells that allows them to carry oxygen. As a consequence, you may find that you are short of breath and tired. To give you a better understanding and to help you know whether or not you have iron deficiency, we’re going to look at this in further detail. 

What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?

Let’s determine the sort of symptoms that you may have if you are suffering from an iron deficiency. These can often be associated with your chronic pain or chronic illness, so you may not pick up on them straight away. In some cases, though, this could be so mild that it goes unnoticed. However, as anaemia worsens and your body becomes more deficient in iron, the symptoms and signs of this condition will get worse and intensify. 

Some of the symptoms and signs that you should be on the lookout for when it comes to iron deficiency are:

  • Poor appetite, especially in children and infants
  • Unusual cravings for substances that are not nutritious, like starch, dirt, or ice
  • Brittle nails
  • Soreness or inflammation of your tongue
  • Cold feet and hands
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Extreme fatigue 

What causes iron deficiency?

There are a number of different reasons why you may be suffering from iron deficiency, including:

  • Pregnancy – a lot of women need some form of liquid iron supplement when they are pregnant because of iron deficiency anaemia. This is because their iron stores must serve their own heightened blood volume, as well as being the source of hemoglobin for the fetus that is growing.  
  • Inability to absorb iron – your small intestine absorbs iron from food into your bloodstream. Celiac disease or any other type of intestinal disorder may impact your intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients from the food that you have digested. 
  • Not enough iron in your diet – if you do not consume enough food that is right in iron, you can become iron deficient. Examples include leafy green vegetables, eggs, and meat. 
  • Blood loss – finally, if you lose blood, you will lose iron because iron is found within the red blood cells in your blood. 

To conclude, there are a number of indicators that you could be experiencing an iron deficiency. If you are, it is important to see a doctor sooner rather than later. They will be able to get to the bottom of what has gone wrong and whether or not it is an iron deficiency you are experiencing. If you are, they will be able to recommend a course of action to help you feel better. If you are not, they will find out what else is causing the symptoms you have.

Thank you for reading
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