Hair loss, fatigue, and a swollen tongue can all be symptoms of low iron levels. Iron is essential for health, because it carries oxygen in your blood to every cell in your body. Signs of iron deficiency include fatigue, frequent infections, and restless legs syndrome. Iron is a mineral that plays a vital role in health and well-being. Without it, many bodily functions would malfunction. The primary role of iron is to carry oxygen in the blood to every cell in the body. Insufficient iron levels can wreak havoc all over the body. Here are seven surprising signs of iron deficiency.
1. Extreme Fatigue and Exhaustion The principle sign that your body is not getting enough iron may be the most difficult to link to iron deficiency. This is one of the most common signs of iron deficiency because it means your body is having trouble carrying the oxygen to your cells so it’s affecting your energy levels. People lacking enough iron in their blood often feel sluggish, weak, and unable to focus. Though fatigue can be the sign of numerous conditions, if it does not go away with adequate rest, consider having your iron levels checked.
2. Frequent Infections Iron plays a key role in a healthy immune system, so lower levels of the mineral can make someone more susceptible to infections. Red blood cells help to transport oxygen to the spleen, which is one place where infections can be fought off. Red blood cells also carry oxygen to the lymph nodes, which house infection-fighting white blood cells. When someone has an iron deficiency, the white blood cells aren’t being produced as well, and they’re not as strong because they’re not getting enough oxygen, making that person more susceptible to infections.
3. Pale Skin Though it’s not always the case, pale skin is often associated with being sick, and there’s good reason for that. Hemoglobin gives skin its rosy colour, so low levels cause the skin to become lighter.
4. Swollen Tongue Lack of oxygen can also cause muscles to enlarge and become painful. It happens to all the muscles really, but the tongue is the only one you can see.
5. Restless Legs Syndrome Some people who have iron deficiency develop restless legs syndrome, a disorder that causes you to have a strong urge to move your legs. The urge often comes with an unpleasant, crawling sensation in the legs that can make it hard to sleep.
6. Pica People with iron deficiency may develop cravings for non-food substances, such as clay, dirt, or chalk, a condition known as pica. Scientists have yet to figure out why this happens to people when they do not get enough iron, but submitting to your cravings and eating these substances could be harmful.
7. Hair Loss Iron deficiency, especially when it develops into anemia, can cause hair loss. When hair follicles don’t get enough oxygen, they go into a resting stage, and hair falls out and doesn’t grow back until anemia is improved. If you notice your hair loss is excessive and it is not growing back, this may be a sign of iron deficiency. If you’re experiencing these symptoms and think you may be iron deficient, speak to your doctor. He or she can help you find ways to include more iron-rich foods in your diet and determine whether you need to take iron supplements.