Anemia is a condition characterized by a decreased level of hemoglobin in red blood cells. Hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells, is responsible for carrying oxygen into the body tissues. The most common type of anemia is the Iron deficiency anemia, a medical condition which occurs due to lack of enough iron to make hemoglobin in your blood, resulting in body tissues being deprived of enough oxygen to conduct normal physical activities.
Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include:
Tiredness is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency anemia in the body. Lack of iron results in less hemoglobin in the blood; therefore, oxygen does not reach body organs. This causes the patient to feel tired as the heart is working harder to try and supply enough oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body.
2. Pale skin
Pale coloring of the skin and the inside part of the lower eyelids is a common symptom of iron deficiency. Hemoglobin gives blood its red color; therefore, lack of it in the blood makes the skin appear pale. Paleness of the skin can either be limited to one area of the body or may appear all over the body. Most common areas are the gums, face, or nails. However, a blood test should be conducted to confirm the paleness is a sign of iron deficiency.
3. Shortness of breath
Lack of iron results in lack of enough oxygen in the body organs needed to conduct normal physical activities such as walking. This results in shortness of breath after simple physical tasks as the body is trying to get more oxygen into the body.
4. Noticeable heart palpitations
Without enough oxygen reaching the body organs, the heart will try to work as hard and faster as possible to pump oxygenated blood to all parts of the body. This leads to abnormally irregular and fast heartbeats. In extreme anemic cases, it may result in a heart murmur, an enlarged heart and heart failure.
5. Dizziness and frequent headaches
With low levels of oxygen in the blood cells, the brain is not supplied with enough oxygen. As a result blood vessels in the brain can swell, causing pressure which is perceived as headaches and dizziness.
6. Hands and feet become cold
Lack of enough iron to create hemoglobin in the blood results in low oxygen being delivered to your hands or feet, resulting in dropped body temperatures on the hands and feet.
7. The causes of Iron deficiency anemia
Lack of enough iron in the blood is the most common cause of anemia, below are the common causes of iron deficiency in the blood:
- Insufficient or no iron intake: Consuming little or no iron in your food over an extended amount of time can result in a shortage of iron in your body.
- Blood loss; substantial blood loss during menstruation, pregnancy or childbirth are known to cause iron deficiency, especially in women of child-bearing age.
- Internal bleeding; medical illnesses that can cause internal bleeding such as stomach ulcers, colon polyps or cancer can cause iron deficiency in the body. Using over-the-counter painkillers can cause stomach bleeding too.
- Endometriosis; this is a condition that causes a woman to have internal bleeding in the abdominal or pelvic area. Heavy bleeding can lead to loss of iron in the blood.
Iron deficiency is a prevalent condition and it is possible to experience the symptoms for several years without understanding the cause. This condition is prevalent in women of child-bearing age, where they lose a lot of iron in their blood during pregnancy or heavy menstruation. If you suspect you might be suffering from iron deficiency anemia visit a hospital and take a blood test.