Despite being a fairly common health problem, particularly amongst women of childbearing age, the symptoms of anaemia are often ignored. You may dismiss the symptoms as simple tiredness or burnout and end up missing an important diagnosis with a simple treatment. It’s crucial to know the signs of iron-deficiency anaemia so you can fix the problem before it spirals out of control.
- Dizziness: Because anaemia decreases the oxygen flow throughout your body and can lower your blood pressure, it can easily lead to feelings of dizziness. You may feel so dizzy that you faint, and this symptoms is often the red flag that leads people to seek diagnosis and treatment. If you use an omron blood pressure monitor and spot levels that are lower than normal and frequently feel dizzy or faint, you should certainly get your iron levels tested.
- Fatigue and weakness:Fatigue is one of those frustratingly vague symptoms that feel different for everyone. Generally, if you’re sleeping normally and haven’t had a major life event or change in your activity levels but feel more tired than normal, it’s a sign that you might be fatigued and anaemia could be the culprit. You may also feel generally weak and have trouble keeping up with the activities you normally find easy.
- Change in complexion: When anaemia progresses and your red blood cell count and overall iron stores drop lower, you may spot changes in your physical appearance. Your facial complexion may become paler and the shadows under your eyes might look more pronounced. Not everyone with anaemia experiences changes in their appearance, so if you have other symptoms it’s still worth seeing a doctor.
- Shortness of breath: The lack of sufficient oxygen in your system can cause you to feel short of breath without excessive physical activity. This feeling can be similar to the breathing difficulties you’d have if you were asthmatic or very anxious, so getting a clear diagnosis is important.
- Coldness: Many people with anaemia first notice a change in their temperature when feeling their hands or feet. They may be colder than normal, or other people may comment on the temperature of their skin. This low body temperature can spread, causing you to feel uncomfortably chilly even in warm weather.
- Chest complaints: Once anaemia is severe, it can cause some unnerving circulatory symptoms. Some people experience heart palpitations, or the feeling that your heart is skipping beats or speeding up and then slowing down. Others may have chest pain, or low blood pressure paired with a rapid heartbeat. All of these are caused by an overtaxed circulatory system as the heart tries to deliver more oxygen to the body.
While anyone can experience iron-deficiency anaemia, it’s most commonly found in women with heavy period and pregnant women. Children with inadequate nutritional intake may also experience anaemia, as well as vegetarians or vegans who don’t get enough iron in their diets due to the exclusion of iron-rich animal products. If you’re in any of these high-risk groups and feel any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it’s important to seek medical attention to find out if iron deficiency is the cause. Within a few months of taking a prescribed iron supplement you should begin to feel better.