What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Iron-Deficiency
Signs and symptoms of
anemia depend on the severity of the
condition. People with mild anemia or anemia that has come on very slowly may
have no symptoms at all. However, if the anemia is severe, the symptoms
increase and become more serious. Many of the signs and symptoms of
iron-deficiency anemia are true for all kinds of anemia.
Major Signs and Symptoms of Anemia
The major symptom of all types of anemia, including
iron-deficiency anemia, is fatigue (feeling tired). Fatigue is caused by having
too few red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body. This lack of oxygen in the
body can cause people to feel weak or dizzy, have a headache, or even pass out
when changing position (for example, standing up).
Since the heart must work harder to move the reduced
amount of oxygen, signs and symptoms may include shortness of breath and chest
pain. This can lead to a fast or irregular heartbeat or a
In anemia, the red blood cells don't have enough
hemoglobin. Common signs of lack of hemoglobin include pale skin, tongue, gums,
and nail beds.
Other Signs and Symptoms of Anemia
Other signs and symptoms of anemia can include:
- Cold hands and feet as well as brittle nails
- Swelling or soreness of the tongue and cracks in
the sides of the mouth
- An enlarged spleen
- Frequent infections
Signs and Symptoms of Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia include unusual
cravings for nonfood items such as ice, dirt, paint, or starch. This craving
for nonfood items is called pica.
Another symptom of iron-deficiency anemia is
legs syndrome (RLS). RLS is a disorder that causes an uncomfortable feeling
in the legs that can only be relieved by movement. Sleep is difficult for
people with RLS.
In infants and young children, signs and symptoms
include a poor appetite, being irritable, and a slower rate of growth and
Some of the signs and symptoms of iron-deficiency
anemia are related to its causes, such as blood loss. Blood loss is most often
seen with very heavy or long lasting menstrual bleeding or vaginal bleeding in
women after menopause. Other signs of internal bleeding are bright red blood in
the stool or black, tarry-looking stools.