Signs And Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency And Effective Ways To Deal With It
Iron deficiency: In addition to increased morbidity and negative effects on physical well-being, anaemia caused by iron deficiency is associated with delayed mental and psychomotor development and an increased risk of maternal mortality.
Iron deficiency, which causes hair loss, may go undetermined for years
- Iron deficiency can cause tiredness and fatigue
- It is one of the most common causes of anaemia
- Iron deficiency can result in lack of concentration in kids
Iron deficiency occurs when the body doesn't have enough of the mineral iron, which leads to low levels of red blood cells or less than normal quantity of haemoglobin in the blood. If the body doesn't have enough haemoglobin, ones tissues and muscles won't get enough oxygen and will be unable to work effectively. Iron is a key component of haemoglobin, and untreated iron deficiency can develop into anaemia. In fact iron deficiency is estimated to be responsible for half of all anaemia globally. Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common type of anaemia and it occurs when the body doesn't have enough of the mineral iron. Even without anaemia, iron deficiency can be debilitating, exacerbate an underlying chronic disease and lead to increased morbidity and mortality.
Iron deficiency: Here's why iron is important for you
Iron is required throughout the body as it is essential for the production of red blood cells, and ensuring that the heart and skeletal muscles can function effectively. It also plays a vital role in fighting off infections and illness, maintaining energy levels and normal brain function. When the body's available iron stores are low (iron deficiency) it can impact almost all aspects of life such as metabolism, mental and physical health, work productivity and even sexual function. Iron deficiency is caused by inadequate dietary intake, impaired absorption of iron, or increased loss of iron from the body.
According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), 53% of women and 23% of men age 15-49 in India are anaemic. Although iron deficiency can affect anyone, it is most prevalent in premenopausal women, pregnant woman and children under five years of age. Men can also suffer from iron deficiency, though the numbers are less alarming than the prevalence rate among women, but of no less concern. The fact that anaemia in men has not been addressed at all has kept the prevalence unchanged. Anaemia in adolescent girls perpetuates the cycle of malnourishment for subsequent generations.
Symptoms of iron deficiency
Not recognising the symptoms of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia is often the biggest contributor to not seeking and receiving a diagnosis. Learning to identify the symptoms is an important step towards finding the diagnosis. Iron deficiency may go undetermined for years and hence, symptoms can be minor or vague depending on the underlying causes of the disease.
The most visible and early symptoms of iron deficiency are:
- Paleness of the skin
- Hair fall
- Loss of concentration in children
- Loss of appetite
In severe cases, patients may develop symptoms like:
- Chest pain
- Low body temperature
- Rapid or irregular heart-beat
- Inability to do regular work
- Shortness of breath
India is the anaemic capital of the world and today it is a severe public health problem. In addition to increased morbidity and negative effects on physical well-being, anaemia is associated with delayed mental and psychomotor development and an increased risk of maternal mortality.
Iron deficiency can be treated by achieving two goals - first, to get red blood cells and haemoglobin count back to normal so that body can get enough oxygen; second, to treat the underlying causes of the disease.
Also read: 7 Foods With The Highest Iron Content Ever
Tips to tackle Iron deficiency
- Avoiding junk food
- Including a variety of nutrients in your meal
- Increase the intake of Iron and vitamin supplements as the deficiency of either two nutrients can lead to iron deficiency
- Eating fresh vegetables like spinach, collard greens, beat greens, turnip greens to maintain the desired iron level in the body
- Including foods rich in Vitamin B12 like liver, lentils, tofu, oysters, fish, red meat, green leafy vegetables
- Working out at least 15 minutes a day for a good blood circulation and a happy heart
- Pregnant women should consume iron supplements as advised by the doctor
- Eating and drinking foods that help your body absorb iron, like orange juice.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.
DoctorNDTV is the one stop site for all your health needs providing the most credible health information, health news and tips with expert advice on healthy living, diet plans, informative videos etc. You can get the most relevant and accurate info you need about health problems like diabetes, cancer, pregnancy, HIV and AIDS, weight loss and many other lifestyle diseases. We have a panel of over 350 experts who help us develop content by giving their valuable inputs and bringing to us the latest in the world of healthcare.