Iron deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t have enough of the mineral iron. This leads to abnormally low levels of red blood cells.
That’s because iron is needed to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen around the body.
If your body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin, your tissues and muscles won’t get enough oxygen and be able to work effectively. This leads to a condition called anemia.
Although there are different types of anemia, iron-deficiency anemia is the most common worldwide.
Common causes of iron deficiency include inadequate iron intake due to poor diet or restrictive diets, inflammatory bowel disease, increased requirements during pregnancy and blood loss through heavy periods or internal bleeding.
Whatever the cause, iron deficiency can result in unpleasant symptoms that can affect your quality of life. These include poor health, concentration, and work productivity.
Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency vary depending on the severity of the anemia, how quickly it develops, your age and current state of health.
In some cases, people experience no symptoms.
Here are 10 signs and symptoms of iron deficiency, starting with the most common.
10. Unusual Tiredness
Feeling very tired is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency, affecting more than half of those who are deficient.
This happens because your body needs iron to make a protein called hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells. Hemoglobin helps carry oxygen around the body.
When your body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin, less oxygen reaches your tissues and muscles, depriving them of energy. In addition, your heart has to work harder to move more oxygen-rich blood around your body, which can make you tired.
Since tiredness is often considered a normal part of a busy, modern life, it’s difficult to diagnose iron deficiency with this symptom alone.
However, many people with iron deficiency experience low energy alongside weakness, feeling cranky, difficulty concentrating or poor productivity at work.
SUMMARY: Fatigue is one of the most common signs of iron deficiency. This is due to less oxygen reaching body tissues, depriving them of energy.
Open next page to continue reading