Anemia is a condition that occurs because of an iron deficiency which leads to shortage of red blood cells. If the body does not have the needed amounts of iron, then the production of hemoglobin is affected and reduced. As a result, the red blood cells cannot supply oxygenated blood through the body which can cause serious health issues.
Since red meat is the main source of iron the people who are most likely to suffer from anemia are vegans and vegetarians. Blood donors are also at risk, particularly women because of the menstrual cycle and the pregnancy factor.
Common signs of iron deficiency
As we explained above, iron deficiency causes reduced oxygen supple to the cells in the whole body. The symptoms of this deficiency can be mild but sometimes even severe. Here are some of them:
- Weakness and fatigue
If you feel constantly tired and sleepy even though you sleep enough, you should check the iron levels in the blood.
- Headache, light-headedness and dizziness
If the oxygen supply to the brain is reduced, you may feel dizzy or light-headed particularly while standing and you may even faint.
- Shortness of breath
If you have trouble breathing or you breathe irregularly even after performing simple activities such as stair climbing, you probably need more iron.
- Frequent infections
Low levels of hemoglobin may also prolong the healing time of cuts and wounds and it can even cause infection.
- Cold feet and hands
Another symptom of an iron deficiency are constantly cold fingers and toes as well as purple nails.
- Brittle and weak nails
Include more iron in your diet if your hair and nails break easily and become fragile.
- Increased heartbeat
If there is lack of oxygen in the blood the heart may start pounding faster than it normally does.
- Odd cravings
Experiencing unusual cravings such as chalk or dirt could also indicate iron deficiency. Craving sugar is also included.
- Restless leg symptom
This symptom is very common in people with iron deficiency.
- Chest pain
Besides being a symptom of iron deficiency, chest pain can also indicate a more serious condition – possible cardiac arrest.
What you should do
In case of iron deficiency, you should eat more foods such as milk, bread, eggs, fish and leafy greens. You can also take iron in the form of supplements, however always consult your doctor first to confirm your diagnosis.