The signs of iron deficiency are so common that they are often attributed to some other issues such as lack of sleep, parenthood and much more. And these are often left unattended, in the hope that over time, they would heal on their own. But, looking out for the common signs of iron deficiency can help to protect our health and prevent it from becoming worse.
Here are the top signs seen in most people with iron deficiency which need attention.
- Fatigue: Feeling tired or exhausted is one of the most common signs seen in most of the people who lack iron in their body. Our body uses iron to make haemoglobin, the substance in the red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all the tissues of the body. So, when you don’t have enough iron, it makes harder for your body to carry the oxygen to the cells. This affects your energy levels and makes you feel sluggish, weak and unable to focus.
- Pale skin: Looking pale is often associated with being sick. Haemoglobin is the reason behind rosy colour for the skin. When red blood cells are low in iron, enough haemoglobin cannot be produced, making these cells smaller and paler in the center. Hence, the skin looks paler. Along with this, if the area inside the bottom eyelid is lighter than normal, it may be a sign of iron deficiency.
- Hair loss: If your hair falls out and doesn’t grow back, it can be an indication of iron deficiency. When hair follicles don’t get enough oxygen, they go into resting stage that causes hair fall. This is because of iron deficiency in the red blood cells that makes haemoglobin, which is responsible for carrying oxygen to the cells. Though it is normal to lose about 100 strands of hair per day, if it doesn’t grow back, it might be because of iron deficiency.
- Breathlessness: As mentioned earlier, haemoglobin is responsible to carry oxygen to all the cells in our body; due to lack of enough iron in the blood, the body starves for the oxygen. Hence, you may experience shortness of breath even while walking to your car or during workout.
- Cracked lips: It is common to have cracked or dry lips during winters or with a habit of licking the lips frequently. But, people who lack enough iron can suffer from a specific type of cracking called “Angular Cheilitis” that affects the corners of the mouth. This makes it difficult to eat, smile or even to talk. Along with treating angular cheilitis, people need to treat even the underlying iron deficiency to prevent it from recurring.
- Spoon nails: No matter whether we are iron deficient or not, our nails can say a lot about our health. Along with weak and brittle nails, people with iron deficiency have spoon nails. Spoon nails look just as they sound – the inside of the nail sinks in, leaving the fingernail shaped like a spoon. Though spoon nails can also be seen in people during trauma and with other issues, iron deficiency might be one of the reasons.
- Pica: Pica is a condition where people crave to eat non-food substances such as clay, dirt or chalk. This condition is mostly seen in people who lack iron. Also, people with iron deficiency start craving for ice. Though it isn’t a problem to have ice, as it is just frozen water, people should look out for any other reasons for this craving. Pica is a common problem during pregnancy due to lack of iron. Discussing the same with the doctor can help rule out the condition.
- Sore muscles: When people lack enough iron, they feel the burn after a workout, longer than usual. The iron deficiency reduces the ability of the muscles to recover properly that leads to achiness.
- Swollen tongue: The lack of oxygen can cause muscles to enlarge and become painful. Since the tongue is one among the muscles, iron deficiency can lead to a swollen and tender tongue. The usual bumps on the surface of the tongue disappear and appear to be smooth. This causes difficulty with chewing, swallowing or even talking.