I love donating blood, so when I went to donate recently and was turned away due to low levels of iron, I was unpleasantly surprised. When I got home I looked into the signs you might have an iron deficiency, and realized nearly all of them were issues I had personally be dealing with. The symptoms were all around me, but I had been avoiding them, which — in retrospect — was a very silly move on my part.
If you’re someone who is cautious about your health, it’s likely you are also one to consult your doctor when things seem off. However, some of the signs and symptoms of an iron deficiency can seem so minor to someone who’s the opposite of cautious — like me.
As you’ll be able to tell from the points below, the body’s responses to low levels of iron can easily be passed over as something else. For example, we’ll talk about how exhaustion is correlated with an iron deficiency, but many of us might just think we’re burnt out from work and feeling more sleepy than usual.
On the flip side, some of the signs of an iron deficiency are a little more startling (e.g., chest pains). Regardless, if you think you might have low iron levels, take a breeze through this article. If the signs and symptoms ring a bell, you should consider consulting your doctor who might recommend supplements or other treatment. Here are 11 signs you might have an iron deficiency.
1. Your Lips Tend To Be Cracked
Cracked lips can be the result of a whole slew of things — the weather, licking your lips, getting too much sun on them, and so on. However, they’re all telling as it pertains to iron deficiencies, too, when coupled with the other symptoms we’ll talk about below.
According to Prevention, about one-third of the people who suffer from an iron deficiency are prone to angular cheilitis, a crackling of the lips at the corners of the mouth. What’s more, the cracking for these people tends to happen over and over again until the iron deficiency is treated.
2. You’re Tired All The Time
One of the biggest signs associated with an iron deficiency, according to Health, is that you feel wiped all the time. While the exhaustion is one of the biggest symptoms, though, it’s often the hardest to detect, the outlet added. They spoke to Nancy Berliner, MD, deputy editor of Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology who said, “Women are so used to having frenetic lives and feeling tired. They often just dismiss being tired as part of life.”
Why the exhaustion? The chronic feeling of being tired for those who have an iron deficiency is caused by the fact that when iron levels are low, less oxygen is reaching the body’s tissues, leaving the person striving for energy.
3. Your Skin Is Unusually Pale
Check out your complexion. Are you paler than ever before? It might be another sign you have an iron deficiency, according to Everyday Health. The outlet spoke to Marilyn Murr, MD, clinical assistant professor of family and community medicine at the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston about iron deficiencies. Murr said,
“When red blood cells become low with iron, they become smaller and paler in the center so skin also becomes paler.” The outlet suggested looking closer at the area around your bottom eyelid, as it might be an easy indicator to how pale your skin is.