What Are The Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency In A Human Body?

Iron deficiency is also known as sideropenia, is a state in which a body has not sufficient iron to supply all over the body.  There are many functions of iron, such as carrying oxygen from the lungs and provide oxygen enzyme reactions in various tissues. If there is iron deficiency then these functions can get interfere and lead to morbidity and death.

Iron deficiency develops when loss of iron is not enough compensated by adequate intake of iron from the diet. If this continues and untreated, it leads to iron deficiency disease called anemia. If not treated, it might lead to problems such as fast or irregular heartbeat or sometimes heart failure, delayed growth in infants and children, and complications during pregnancy.

Anemia is a condition classified by insufficient red blood cells or hemoglobin. This lack of iron content results in a reduced production of the protein hemoglobin.

The people who are most susceptible to the disease are children, pregnant women, and people with poor diet.

Due to deficient iron levels in the blood, some people cannot donate blood.

Here are 10 signs and symptoms of iron deficiency –

  1. Shortness of Breath

Hemoglobin allows your red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. Due to iron deficiency, hemoglobin is low and oxygen levels are also low; which means your muscles are not getting sufficient oxygen to do normal activities such as walking, climbing stairs, exercises or working out.

Due to this, your breathing rate increases as your heart tries to make more oxygen which leads to shortness of breath.


  1. Tiredness / Fatigue

Feeling extreme tiredness is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency.

The reason behind this occurrence is that your body needs iron to make hemoglobin.  Hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen around the body.

Less hemoglobin means less oxygen reach your tissues and muscles; this reduces your body energy level. Plus your heart will work harder to supply more oxygen-rich blood around your body, which will make you feel tired.

However, tiredness is usually considered a normal part of a busy life, so it is difficult to relate iron deficiency with this symptom alone.

Click to know – Treatment of Iron deficiency and Prevention Tips


  1. Restless Legs

Studies found that there is a connection between iron deficiency and restless leg syndrome. The lower the iron levels in our body will worsen the situation.

Restless leg syndrome is a condition where you have a strong urge to move your legs at rest. It is usually worse at night; people who suffer from this might struggle to get sleep. It can also cause unpleasant crawling or itchiness in the legs.


  1. Headaches, Lightheadedness, and Dizziness

Due to iron deficiency and low levels of hemoglobin, there is not sufficient supply of oxygen which reaches the brain. It can lead to the brain swelling, causing high pressure, dizziness and frequent headaches.


  1. Brittle or Spoon-Shaped Fingernails

A condition of brittle or spoon-shaped fingernails called as koilonychia.

Due to an extreme level of iron deficiency in a body, the nails get brittle which chip and crack easily.

In later stages of iron deficiency, spoon-shaped nails will occur which seems like the edges are raised and the middle of the nail dips this gives spoon like rounded appearance.

However, this effect is a rarely seen in severe cases of iron-deficiency anemia.


  1. Dry and Damaged Hair and Skin

According to research, people who suffer from iron deficiency can have dry and damaged skin and hair.

This is due to limited oxygen supply will make skin and hair to become dry and weak. It can also lead to hair loss too.

NOTE- It is completely normal if some hair falls out during everyday washing and brushing, but if you experience clumps loss then it might be an indication of iron deficiency.


  1. Skin Paleness

Pale skin coloring of the inside of the lower eyelids occurs due to the iron deficiency on the face, lower eyelids gums, inside of the lips and nails.

People who have iron deficiency can lead to paleness all over the body.

Good hemoglobin levels in red blood cells give blood its red color; therefore, iron deficiency means low a hemoglobin levels which means less blood red.


  1. Heart Palpitations

According to studies, iron deficiency indicates low levels of hemoglobin which mean that the heart has to work harder to carry oxygen. This might lead to irregular heartbeats, or you might feel that your heart is beating fast or noticeable heartbeats (also known as heart palpitations).

However, these symptoms tend to be a lot less common but people who suffer from iron deficiency for a long time to experience them.

Click to know – What are the Causes of Iron deficiencies in a human body


  1. Swelling and Soreness of the Tongue and Mouth

Few researchers have found that a sign like your tongue becomes swollen, pale, inflamed, or strangely smooth is an indication that your body is deficient in iron levels.

  • Iron deficiency might even lead to dried mouth, mouth ulcers or sore red cracks at the corners of the mouth can also be a sign. A disease is known as Plummer–Vinson syndrome, it will cause painful atrophy of the mucous membrane covering the tongue, lips, pharynx and the esophagus; all this leads to difficulty in swallowing.


  1. Other Signs –

There are few other signs that there is the iron deficiency in your body. Other signs of iron deficiency anemia are:

  • Cold hands and feet – The lack of iron levels mean less oxygen is being delivered to the hands and feet. Therefore, some people might feel the cold more easily or have cold hands and feet.
  • Twitches –

Twitches are a sudden jerk condition which usually occurs during the time of sleep. This muscle spasm occurs as a person is about to sleep and slept phase.

  • Strange cravings – A craving for strange foods or non-edible items is called “pica.” It generally includes cravings to eat ice, chalk, paper, dirt, or clay and it indicates a sign of iron deficiency. It might also occur during pregnancy.
  • More frequent infections / Bad immune system – Iron is necessary for our body for a healthy immune system; deficiency of it might cause you to catch more illnesses than normal.
  • Feeling anxious – The lack of iron levels means low oxygen in the body; this may cause feelings of anxiety.
  • Irritability – The person might get irritated quickly and might be short tempered.


Complications due to iron deficiency –

Little iron deficiency anemia generally doesn’t lead to any complications. However, if it kept untreated, iron deficiency anemia can become severe and cause following health problems –


  • Problems during pregnancy – During pregnancy, severe iron deficiency anemia can lead to premature births and low weight babies.
  • Growth problems – This usually occurs in infants and children, large iron deficiency can cause delayed growth and development.
  • Heart problems – Iron deficiency lead to lack of oxygen. Your heart will pump more blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen carried in your blood. This might cause faster or irregular heartbeat and might lead to enlarged heart or heart failure.

Author: Hiten Patil

Hiten is Content Writer and He write about all platform like health and wellness related blog and other platform as well