Iron deficiency anemia is a disease caused by shortage of red blood cells due to a low count of blood cells in the body. Namely, when the body doesn’t have enough iron to turn it into hemoglobin, the red blood cells are unable to carry oxygenated blood to all the body tissues, which further leads to many other complications.
Vegetarians and vegans are at a higher risk of iron deficiency since red meat, the biggest source of iron, isn’t a part of their diets. Blood donors are also more prone to this illness, especially women, because of the pregnancy factor and the menstrual cycle.
Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia
- Tiredness- if you’re sleeping enough, but you still feel tired or if you experience constant muscle weakness and low energy levels for a prolonged period of time, you may lack iron. Make sure to consult your physician.
- Dizziness, headaches, and light-headedness, especially when standing– when you stand up, the oxygen flow to the brain is interrupted and you get head rushes. This causes headaches, dizziness, and even fainting.
- Shortness of breath– if a simple physical task, like climbing the stairs, makes you breathe irregularly, you should consult your physician.
- Frequent infections-if your wounds take a long time to heal or if your cuts get easily infected, you might have low levels of hemoglobin and you need to include more iron to your diet.
- Cold hands and feet-if your hands and feet are cold all the time, this means that you may have problems with low levels of iron.
- Weak and brittle nails-if your nails and hair are brittle and fragile, make sure to include more iron to your diet, through food and supplements.
- Increased heartbeat- if you feel your heart pounding, you might need to check your iron levels.
- Unusual food cravings-if you feel strange food cravings for non-food items, like chalk or dirt, you may have iron deficiency.
- Restless leg syndrome-if you experience an uncomfortable and tingling sensation in your legs that doesn’t go away, you should consult your physician.
- Chest pain– this is a potential symptom of anemia, but it can also be a symptom of other serious health problems like cardiac arrest.
How to increase the level of iron?
- Eat meat, fish, eggs, leafy greens, cereals, breads, and milk
- Take iron supplements
- Consult your physician as soon as possible