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Last Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Iron Deficiency - What Are The Possible Signs And Symptoms?

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Dr. Arijit NagHematologist • 14 Years Exp.MBBS, MD - Internal Medicine, MRCP (UK), DM - Clinical Haematology
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Iron deficiency anemia is a type of anemia, which occurs due to deficiency of iron. Iron is the main component of hemoglobin. So, a decrease in the hemoglobin level results in iron deficiency anemia.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Signs and symptoms appear when anemia is moderate to severe. In the mild stage, iron deficiency anemia often goes unnoticed. The signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are:

  1. Extreme fatigue (weakness)
  2. Pale skin and brittle nails
  3. Reduced  appetite
  4. Headache, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  5. Cold hands and feet with tingling numbness
  6. Chest pain, palpitations, or shortness of breath
  7. Inflammation or soreness of the tongue
  8. Unusual cravings for indigestible substances, such as ice, dirt, or starch. 

What are the Causes of Iron Deficiency Anemia? 

  1. Inadequate iron intake: Your body gets iron from the food you eat. If you consume too little iron, then your body may become iron deficient. Hence, resulting in anemia.
  2. Inability to absorb iron: Iron is absorbed into your bloodstream from the food in your small intestine. In conditions like an intestinal disorder, this absorption of iron is hampered which results in iron deficiency anemia. Also, when your small intestine is bypassed or removed surgically, absorption of iron is hampered.
  3. Blood loss: Red blood cells in your blood contain iron, and if the blood loss is severe, you can end up having iron deficiency. Conditions, such as bleeding hemorrhoids, colorectal cancer, and heavy menstruation can result in iron deficiency anemia.
  4. Pregnancy and lactation: During pregnancy and lactation period, the iron requirement of the mother is more, and when it is unfulfilled, she may end up having iron deficiency anemia.

Which Group is at Risk?

  1. Vegetarians
  2. Women
  3. Infants and children 
  4. Frequent blood donors

How is it Diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made with the help of: 


Treating the underlying cause is the primary step.

  1. Severe cases: When the iron level is too low, blood transfusion and even intravenous iron is given
  2. Mild to Moderate Cases: Iron and vitamin C supplements are given in mild and moderate cases of iron deficiency anemia.

Can you Prevent Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Yes. You can prevent iron deficiency anemia by including iron-rich foods in your diet, such as:

  1. Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, peas, and beans
  2. Dry fruits, such as raisins and apricots
  3. Red meat, pork and poultry, and seafoodIron-fortified ceconsult an expertreals, bread, and pasta
  4. Include vitamin C-rich foods in your diet to enhance iron absorption. Vitamin C is found in Grapefruit, oranges, strawberries, lemons, and melonsLeafy greens, broccoli, peppers, and tomatoes

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