9 Tell-Tale Symptoms of Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Have you been feeling particularly tired lately? It could simply be the result of a particularly long month at work or it could be something else– something like iron-deficiency anemia. It’s the most common nutritional disorder in the world.

There are several different types of anemia, but iron-deficiency anemia is the most widespread in America. The leading culprit tends to be your diet. Have you been getting enough iron, folic acid or B12 in yours?

Iron rich foods for your diet

Your diet isn’t the only thing that could cause this blood disorder. Even while maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, the following can all cause anemia:

  • Ulcers
  • Pregnancy
  • Particularly heavy periods
  • Blood loss
  • Colon polyps
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Hereditary blood disorders

What Happens When You Become Anemic?

You become anemic when you don’t have enough red blood cells to keep your cells and tissues oxygenated. This causes you to feel weak and tired. More severe cases may make it hard to breath.

There are significant health consequences if iron-deficiency anemia is left untreated. Luckily, your doctor can treat this blood disorder, if you can tell that you have it. People tend to brush off that feeling of excess tiredness, so how do you know if you are suffering from anemia?

1) Fatigue

Woman feeling fatigued because she is iron-deficient

This is the most common symptom of iron-deficiency anemia. Have you been feeling particularly tired? Does this happen on days that you got enough sleep and weren’t overexerting yourself physically? We’d recommend booking an appointment to get an anemia blood test (otherwise known as a complete blood count or CBC).

Please note that unexplained fatigue could be a symptom of another health issue or medical condition like:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia

In any case, it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor about this symptom.

2) Pale Skin

Pale skin is a common symptom of anemia

Have you been looking a little more pale than usual? This could also be a warning sign of anemia. The pale skin can occur when less blood is flowing through the blood vessels in your skin. It produces the slightly drained looking complexion so popular amongst Hollywood vampires. If you feel like you’re looking a little colorless, may be more than the lack of sun.

3) Chest Pain

Anemic man suffers from chest pain

A lack of red blood cells means that your heart will be working overtime just to perform everyday tasks. If you’re a relatively active person but recent jogs have left you tired with chest pain, then it could be a symptom of iron-deficiency anemia.

4) Feeling Dizzy

Iron-deficiency can lead to dizziness

We aren’t just talking about vertigo here– sometimes dizziness is that feeling of lightheadedness you can get when standing up suddenly. If you’ve been dealing with consistent dizzy spells, then we recommend that you talk to your doctor.

Like fatigue, dizziness can be a symptom of more than just anemia. It could also mean you have low blood pressure and it’s not something to shrug off.

5) Cold Hands and Feet

Extremities become cold from iron-deficiency anemia

Poor circulation is a complication often associated with anemia. This can leave your extremities feeling pretty cold. Have you been keeping your socks on to keep them feeling warm (even when it’s not winter)? This could be something to mention to your doctor.

6) Headaches

Anemic woman suffering a headache

Want to know what happens to the brain when it doesn’t get enough iron? The arteries swell and this produces a headache. If headaches were rare for you, but now they’ve become much more frequent, we recommend that you talk to your doctor about it.

7) Shortness of Breath

Anemic man is short on breath

Ever feel like you can’t draw in enough breath no matter how hard you try? Shortness of breath could be an early symptom of COPD or it could be a symptom of iron-deficiency anemia. This occurs because the oxygen levels in your body have dropped so low that you’ll start to feel constantly out of breath.

8) Irregular Heartbeat

Doctor checks anemic patient's blood pressure

As we mentioned earlier, anemia will cause your heart to work harder in order to cycle the same amount of blood through the body. This excess stress on the heart can cause an irregular heartbeat.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you’re experiencing a heart attack. Iron-deficiency anemia takes a long time to impact your heart in a serious way. Still, it’s not something that you should ignore. An irregular heartbeat could also be a symptom of a heart condition called atrial fibrillation.

9) Feeling Weak

Anemic woman struggling to exercise

Struggling with weights or other items that didn’t seem to be such a problem before? If normal activities feel like they are suddenly putting a significant strain on your muscles, anemia could be the culprit. Like with fatigue, this sudden weakness is caused by a lack of oxygen for your muscles.


Have you been experiencing any of these symptoms? Iron-deficiency anemia can be treated if you get yourself over to your doctor’s office. We are also conducting anemia clinical trials if you are interested in helping us develop even better treatments for this common blood disorder.



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