Fatigue has been characterized as long-term mental and/or physical exhaustion that occurs without any great physical exertion.1,2 Patients may describe fatigue as feeling “exhausted”, “listless”, “washed out” or “cranky” and may also associate it with diminished performance at work or increased difficulty in performing routine daily tasks.14
Haemoglobin is a red-coloured pigment. If you are iron deficient, there may be less haemoglobin in your blood and you may look pale.3 Your whole body might look pale but some people can notice the paleness most easily on their face, nails, inner mouth and lining of the eyes. If you pull your lower eyelid down, the colour of the lining should be a rich, red colour. If it is a very pale peach colour or yellow, this may indicate that you have iron deficiency or iron deficiency anaemia.
Cracks and Ulcers in Your Mouth
Iron deficiency can also cause the appearance of sore, red, flaky cracks at one or both of the sides of your mouth.6 This feels more extreme than when your lips are chapped due to cold weather. Mouth ulcers are sore white patches on the inside your mouth. There are many reasons why you might have mouth ulcers, including biting the inside of your mouth, stress and being run-down, but another reason could be iron deficiency.
Craving to Eat Non-Food Items
Craving certain foods from time to time is normal, especially during pregnancy. However If you have cravings to eat ice or non-food items such as clay, dirt, ash, and starch this could be a sign of iron deficiency. This kind of eating disorder is also called “pica”.8,9 If you are eating ice regularly you may also want to discuss this with your dentist as chewing ice can damage your teeth.
It is natural for some hair to fall out when you are washing or combing it, but if you are losing clumps of hair, or more hair than normal, it could be caused by iron deficiency. Increasing your iron levels could stop or reduce your hair loss.12,13
Brittle or Spoon-Shaped Nails
Brittle nails chip and crack easily. Spending a lot of time with your hands in water or using some nail polishes can lead to brittle nails, but brittle nails can also be a sign of iron deficiency.14 Another sign of iron deficiency is ‘spoon-shaped nails’. These are nails that are dipped in the middle and raised at the edges to give a rounded appearance like a spoon.15
Dizziness, Irritability and Loss of Concentration
Feeling irritable,20,21,22 dizzy12,18,19 or losing concentration quickly22,23,24 could be due to iron deficiency. Iron helps your blood deliver oxygen around the body, and feeling irritable or dizzy may be a sign that your brain is not getting enough oxygen.
Headaches can occur for many reasons such as colds, being dehydrated or eyesight problems. Repeated headaches could also be a sign of iron deficiency.16
If you feel the cold easily or regularly have cold hands and/or feet even if the temperature around you is not cold, it may be that there is not enough oxygen being delivered in your blood to your hands and feet, which could be a result of iron deficiency.7
Increased Susceptibility to Infections
If you seem to be picking up more infections than usual, such as coughs and colds, this could be a sign that you have iron deficiency. Iron is needed by your body to maintain a healthy immune system.17
Shortness of Breath
During exercise, it is normal that you might experience shortness of breath and a racing heart4 because there is an increased demand for oxygen in your body. If you are iron deficient, your blood may not contain enough oxygen for your muscles to do normal activities such as walking. Your body tries to make up for this by increasing your breathing rate to get more oxygen into your body, and by increasing your heart rate to help move the oxygen around your body.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is a disturbing need to move your legs when resting, for example when you are in bed. This distressing feeling often goes away when you move your legs. It is possible to have restless leg syndrome but not be iron deficient, but if you are iron deficient you are nine times more likely to experience restless leg syndrome than the general population.10,11
Sore Tongue or Dry Mouth
Iron deficiency can affect the surface of your tongue making it feel sore for no apparent reason. Likewise, you may have an uncomfortably dry mouth even if you have been drinking plenty of liquids.5
Iron Deficiency Outros sinais
Deficiência de Ferro Síntomas
Déficit de Hierro SEMNE
CARENȚEI DE FIER
Front Explore SymptomExplore s
Explore the symptoms of iron deficiency.
Explorador de sintomas de deficiência de ferro.
EXPLORA TUS SÍNTOMAS
Check your symptoms with our LiFe app.
Consulte os seus sintomas através do nosso explorador de sintomas.
Revisa tus síntomas con la LiFE app
Don’t diagnose yourself: Talk to your doctor.
Não faça um autodiagnóstico. Fale com o seu médico.
Se detetar os sintomas apresentados acima, ou se está preocupado com a sua saúde de alguma forma, é importante que fale com o seu médico para descobrir qual é o problema subjacente. O seu médico pode mandar fazer análises para determinar se tem deficiência de ferro ou se os seus sintomas são devidos a uma condição diferente.
If you experience the symptoms listed above, or are concerned for your health in any way, it is important that you talk to your doctor to find out what the underlying problem might be. Your doctor will be able to perform tests to determine whether you have iron deficiency or if your symptoms are due to a different condition.
- Reveiz L, Gyte G, Cuervo L. Treatments for iron-deficiency anaemia in pregnancy (Review). Cochrane Collab. 2010;(1).
- Wood MM, Elwood PC. Symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia: A community survey. Br J Prev Soc Med. 1966;20:117-121.
- Stoltzfus R, Edward-Raj A. Clinical pallor is useful to detect severe anemia in populations where anemia is prevalent and severe. J Nutr. 1999;129(May):1675-1681.
- McDermid J, Lönnerdal B. Iron. Adv Nutr. 2012;(1):532-533. doi:10.3945/an.112.002261.
- Osaki T, Ueta E, Arisawa K, Kitamura Y, Matsugi N. The pathophysiology of glossal pain in patients with iron deficiency and anemia. Am J Med Sci. 1999;318(5):324-9.
- Scully C. ABC of oral health: Mouth ulcers and other causes of orofacial soreness and pain. Bmj. 2000;321(7254):162-165. doi:10.1136/bmj.321.7254.162.
- World Health Organization. Iron deficiency anaemia. Assessment, prevention and control: A guide for programme managers.; 2001:1-114.
- Simpson E, Mull JD, Longley E, East J. Pica during pregnancy in low-income women born in Mexico. West J Med. 2000;173(1):20-25.
- Lacey EP. Broadening the perspective of pica: literature review. Public Health Rep. 1990;105(1):29-35.
- Wang J, O’Reilly B, Venkataraman R, Mysliwiec V, Mysliwiec A. Efficacy of oral iron in patients with restless legs syndrome and a low-normal ferritin: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Sleep Med. 2009;10(9):973-5. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2008.11.003.
- Sun ER, Chen CA, Ho G, Earley CJ, Allen RP. Iron and The Restless Legs Syndrome. Sleep. 1998;21(4):381-387.
- Stein J, Dignass A. Management of iron deficiency anemia in inflammatory bowel disease–a practical approach. Ann Gastroenterol. 2012;26:1-10.
- Trost LB, Bergfeld WF, Calogeras E. The diagnosis and treatment of iron deficiency and its potential relationship to hair loss. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006;54(5):824-44.
- Cashman MW, Sloan SB. Nutrition and nail disease. Clin Dermatol. 2010;28(4):420-5.
- Love AL, Billett HH. Obesity, bariatric surgery, and iron deficiency: true, true, true and related. Am J Hematol. 2008;83(5):403-9. doi:10.1002/ajh.21106.
- Vuković-Cvetković V, Plavec D, Lovrencić-Huzjan A, Galinović I, Serić V, Demarin V. Is iron deficiency anemia related to menstrual migraine? Post hoc analysis of an observational study evaluating clinical characteristics of patients with menstrual migraine. Acta Clin Croat. 2010;49(4):389-94.
- Dhur A, Galan P, Hercberg S. Iron status, immune capacity and resistance to infections. Comp Biochem Physiol A Comp Physiol. 1989;94(1):11-9.
- Paterson JA, Davis J, Gregory M, et al. A study on the effects of low haemoglobin on postnatal women. Midwifery. 1994;10(2):77-86.
- Janis M. Supportive Oncology Iron Deficiency Anemia in Cancer Patients.Oncol Hematol Rev. 2012;8(2):74-80.
- Pasricha S-R, Hayes E, Kalumba K, Biggs B-A. Effect of daily iron supplementation on health in children aged 4–23 months: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Lancet Glob Heal. 2013;1(2):e77-e86. doi:10.1016/S2214-109X(13)70046-9.
- Radlowski EC, Johnson RW. Perinatal iron deficiency and neurocognitive development. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013;7:1-11.
- Pinero DJ, Connor JR. Iron in the Brain: An Important Contributor in Normal and Diseased States. Neurosci. 2000;6(6):435-453.
- Albacar G, Sans T, Martín-Santos R, et al. An association between plasma ferritin concentrations measured 48 h after delivery and postpartum depression. J Affect Disord. 2011;131:136-42. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2010.11.006.
- Bhattacharyya PC, Nayak M. Anaemia in elderly. Med Updat 2010. 2010;20:571-576.