Iron Deficiency Anaemia : Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Are you aware of Iron Deficiency Anaemia Symptoms?
Want to know the clear Signs of Iron Deficiency?
Then this post is for you. Today we will discuss Iron deficiency, caused, symptoms and how to treat iron deficiency etc. So let us start
Iron is an important component of hemoglobin; these are the red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to transport it to the other parts of the body. Hemoglobin represents the iron levels in our body. Deficiency of iron causes these blood cells to carry the low amount of oxygen which eventually results in many diseases. Feeling tired and fatigued lately is one of the reasons that you might have iron deficiency.
What is Iron Deficiency?
Iron deficiency is a condition in which there is a low level of iron content in the body. It is the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia. Iron deficiency and anemia are often used interchangeably. Anemia is the loss of blood from the body due to variant reasons; one of the reasons is a deficiency of iron.
Causes of Iron Deficiency
There are three main causes of iron deficiency in the body:
1. Not eating enough Iron-rich Foods:
Our body can store iron but it cannot make it. So we need to get iron from the food we eat. If we don’t have enough iron in our diet than it will lead to its deficiency. Red meat is the best source of iron. We can also get it from plants, and pulses.
2. Insufficient Iron Absorption
Iron that we get needs to be absorbed by the body. Stomach and bowel absorb iron. Some health conditions mainly the diseases related to stomach and intestine affect the absorption of iron. Also, if you have gone through a stomach surgery, your iron absorption will get affected.
One thing that should be noted is, the plant-based iron is harder to absorb than the animal-based iron. You must understand how to prepare the plant-based iron rich foods so as to make sure you absorb as much iron as possible.
3. Blood Loss
You lose iron if you lose blood through any sort of bleeding. Having heavy menstrual periods, bleeding in the stomach (maybe from medicines such as aspirin or any anti-inflammatory medicines, ulcers or cancer), giving blood due to surgery, infections in stomach etc. can cause blood loss in the body. (1)
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency:
The Iron Deficiency Anemia Symptoms are
Dizziness is often coupled with lightheadedness. Iron deficiency indicates low levels of hemoglobin in the blood. Due to which less oxygen reaches the brain. As a result, blood vessels in the brain get swelled, causing pressure and headaches leading to dizziness.
2. Irregular Heartbeat
If left untreated, iron deficiency can become the leading cause of heart problem. It causes rapid or irregular heartbeats. The heart needs to pump more blood in order to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the blood pumped.
People suffering from lack of iron may be fatigued or tired most of the time. The lack of iron in our body causes the heart to pump less oxygen throughout the body due to which the person feels tired and less of energy.
4. Dry Skin
Dry skin is linked to oxygen content. When the skin and hair are deprived of oxygen, it can become weak, dry and damaged because skin receives less oxygen from the blood during iron deficiency. There are many effective home remedies for dry skin but the root cause can be a deficiency of iron. (2)
5. Brittle Nails
A common symptom of iron deficiency. The nails become brittle; spoon-shaped and gets easily broken. This condition is also called koilonychia.
If your skin becomes pale pink or yellow color then this may indicate the lack of iron levels in your body. Paleness in specific areas such as a face, lower eyelid or nails, all are the symptoms of iron deficiency. This is caused by the lower level of hemoglobin which gives a red color to the blood.
7. Dry Hair
Our hair requires the proper amount of oxygen along with other nutrients for its growth. Lack of oxygen from the blood during iron deficiency makes it dry and damaged. In severe cases, it causes heavy hair fall.
8. Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath can be seen on an iron-deficient patient. It’s because of the shortage of the red blood cells. RBC’s carry the oxygen to the parts of the body, lack of them results in the improper amount of oxygen which leads to difficulty in breathing most of the time especially if you are included on physical activities.
9. Soreness of Tongue
If the hemoglobin levels are low in iron deficiency, it causes the tongue to become pale, whereas if the myoglobin is not present in an adequate amount it causes the tongue to become sore, swollen and smooth. Myoglobin is the protein in RBC’s that supports the muscles. Also present in the muscles of the tongue.
Iron deficiency indicates that not enough oxygen is reaching the brain. This causes pressure and pain in the form of a headache. Compared to other symptoms, headaches are not very common. In fact, migraines are triggered by an overdose of iron.
Treatment of Iron Deficiency
1. Iron Supplements
Supplements help to restore iron levels in our body. If possible, one should take iron tablets on empty stomach, which helps the body to absorb them better. In case if they upset your stomach (which they might be, its common) then take them with meals.
Your physician can recommend you to take these supplements for months. You must always take it under guidance because it can cause constipation and black stools.
Here is an informative video from Dr. Axe on how to treat iron deficiency
Your daily diet must include a good amount of iron-rich foods. They help to prevent and treat iron deficiency. Red meat, green vegetables, nuts etc are iron-rich food products which can make up your iron levels.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps to absorb iron. If you’re taking iron tablets your physician will recommend you to take vitamin c for its proper absorption.
Supplements won’t help you if there are other causes of iron deficiency in the body like excess bleeding, heavy menstruation etc. in that case doctor will prescribe you medicines for the same which will stop the heavy bleeding. In many cases, such as accidents, a blood transfusion replaces iron and blood loss quickly.
Apart from red meat, dried nuts and lentils there are vegetables which are a rich source of iron:
- Legumes including Beans, Peas, and Lentils.
- Tofu and Soybeans.
- Nuts and Seeds.
- Pumpkin, Sesame, Hemp, and Flaxseeds.
- Cashew, pine nuts and walnuts.
- Leafy green veggies like spinach, kale, beet greens.
- Beetroot Leaves
- Fruits like Apple, Pomegranate you can have one serving per day.
- Whole grains
- Amaranth (gluten-free ancient grain)
- Coconut Milk
- Dark Chocolate
- Dried Thyme
Side effects of Excess Iron
Anything in excess causes harm. There are a lot of side effects of high iron content in the body.
Some of them include:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Joint Pain
- Abdominal Pain
- Liver diseases
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Irregular Heart Rhythm
- Heart attack or heart failure
- Skin color change
- Loss of period and sex interest
- Adrenal functional problems
- Hypothyroidism, hypogonadism
- Hair loss