Iron-deficient anemia, as the name implies, is a condition that occurs when your body’s iron levels are too low. Quite a bit of your body’s iron is found in your blood’s hemoglobin, the protein that makes it appear red. However, this protein does more than just change the color of your blood. It’s also responsible for supplying your body with oxygen. But what do these two concepts have in common?
Well, your body needs iron to make hemoglobin. If you can’t provide your body with iron through the food you eat, then you will eventually develop anemia. That said, you can also develop an iron deficiency by extreme blood loss (such as from ulcers or heavy menstrual periods). Still, there are some signs and symptoms you may not be aware of that may mean you have iron deficiency.
You Always Feel Tired
Feeling tired is one of the more common symptoms of iron-deficient anemia. Since hemoglobin provides you with oxygen, any change in your hemoglobin levels can trigger tiredness. If your body doesn’t receive adequate oxygen, then every organ in your body will have to work all the harder to help provide you with enough energy to make it through the day.
That said, if you feel tired, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have iron-deficient anemia. There are other causes of fatigue, too. For instance, you may just be tired because of work. A physician can’t diagnose you with anemia just because you feel exhausted, but they may recommend some tests to rule it out. There are also other ways to fight fatigue, like drinking more water and exercising regularly.
You Can’t Stop Moving Your Legs
Do you feel like you can’t stop moving your legs? And even if you try, there is still an inexplicable urge to continue doing it? If that sounds like you, then you might be suffering from a condition called “restless legs syndrome” (RLS). For many people, this condition doesn’t have any clear reason for its cause. However, sometimes the reason behind it is due to iron deficiency.
If your doctor determines that you have RLS, then they can help treat it by treating the iron deficiency itself. If they find that your case of RLS is more severe, though, they might recommend lifestyle changes or a prescription drug like gabapentin. This medication can be expensive without insurance, so if you or someone you know needs it, a cost-saving gabapentin coupon can bring the price down.
You Have Heart Palpitations
It’s common to feel your heart pounding after running or doing some physical activity or playing sports. However, when you start noticing your heart beating heavily while resting, then this can be caused by heart palpitations. It may also be a sign of iron-deficient anemia. As it’s associated with tiredness, these heart palpitations are linked with lower levels of hemoglobin and insufficient iron levels.
When this happens, your heart has to work extra hard to compensate for it, leading to the feeling your heart is about to burst out of your chest. In more severe cases, this can lead to heart failure, so it should never be taken lightly. If you are experiencing heart palpitations, it’s important to schedule a doctor’s appointment.
You’re Feeling Depressed or Anxious
There are two main reasons that can explain the link between iron deficiency anemia and anxiety. For starters, anemia has distinct symptoms, such as dizziness, fatigue, and headaches. If you feel like this every day, it can start to affect your life and may even lead to anxiety or even depression. Secondly, there’s actual medical research that actually supports this.
In 2020, BMC Psychiatry featured a study that concluded people with iron-deficient anemia had a higher risk of depression or anxiety. Although more studies are needed to clarify the reasons for this, one hypothesis is due to how iron affects parts of the brain related to emotions and mood regulation, increasing the risk of anxiety and depression.
You Have Spoon-Shaped Fingernails
This phenomenon is uncommon, but if you have it, it might mean your iron deficiency levels are more severe than you might realize. The symptoms start out as brittle nails, but it gets worse over time until you have developed spoon-shaped nails. Called koilonychia, this condition is caused by blood flow abnormalities and poor hemoglobin levels.
Your body can present a number of subtle symptoms of iron deficiency, and you might not even notice it. While some people are at a higher risk than others (such as vegetarians, elderly people, and women of childbearing years), it’s incredibly important to book an appointment with your doctor if you suspect you may have anemia. And once you start treating it, you can finally start feeling much better!