What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?

While the symptoms of iron deficiency vary, iron deficiency anemia is one of the most well-known symptoms, and perhaps the most critical. When the bone marrow doesn't have enough iron, it can't make the hemoglobin needed to keep red blood cells healthy, which can cause iron deficiency anemia. As a result, the bone marrow produces fewer and smaller red blood cells than those of a healthy person. Eventually, this could lead to reduced oxygen supply to the organs, which can lead to organ failure and, in some cases, death.

common symptoms

Apart from iron deficiency anemia, some other symptoms of iron deficiency are fatigue, lightheadedness, muscle weakness, irritability, a very pale and itchy appearance, an eating disorder where the sufferer craves non-food items like clay or chalk. In addition to these symptoms, anemia can also cause hair loss, shortness of breath, fainting, constipation, heart palpitations, ringing in the ears, visual hallucinations, numbness or burning sensations, and, rarely, sleep apnea.

Causes and treatment

Iron deficiency can be caused by excessive bleeding, not eating enough iron-containing foods, or a diet or medical problem that interferes with the body's absorption of the mineral. On average, women are ten times more likely than men to develop this condition due to blood loss during menstruation. Anemia is the final stage of iron deficiency, but troublesome symptoms can occur even before anemia appears. Any symptoms of low iron should always be taken seriously, as iron deficiency anemia can be life-threatening but can be prevented with early treatment.

Many symptoms of iron deficiency can be prevented with a proper diet or the use of iron supplements, unless it is due to poor absorption. Iron-rich foods include meats of all kinds, green leafy vegetables, beans, and tofu. People who have health problems or who are planning changes to their diet should discuss this with a health professional.

The role of iron

Iron is an essential nutrient for humans, as well as many other forms of life. In humans, it helps regulate cellular respiration, providing the main source of energy for different types of cells in the body to carry out their work. It is also an important component of red blood cells, which provide oxygen to all parts of the body and return carbon dioxide to the lungs for expiration. Iron also helps store oxygen within muscle cells.

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