10 Signs You May Have An Iron Deficiency

9. Heart palpitations Increased heartbeats will also be experienced due to insufficient amounts of oxygen to the heart. The increased pounding is due to the fact… Denis Courtney - July 13, 2016

9. Heart palpitations

Increased heartbeats will also be experienced due to insufficient amounts of oxygen to the heart. The increased pounding is due to the fact that the heart is being overworked as it is forced to make do with the small amounts of oxygen present in the body. An overworked heart can lead to irregular heartbeats, enlargement, heart murmurs, and in worst cases heart failure which normally happens if you have been battling anemia for a very long time.

Iron in the red blood cells helps in the circulation of oxygen to all the body parts and helps regulate cell growth. The center of a red blood cell is made up of hemoglobin, which is an iron-rich protein. As the blood moves through the lungs, oxygen molecules normally attach themselves to the iron component of hemoglobin. When the blood leaves the lungs, it then releases oxygen to all the body cells and tissues and removes any carbon dioxide. If the blood does not have enough iron to create hemoglobin, the new red blood cells produced will be unhealthy and unable to pick up and deliver oxygen properly.

When the red blood cells are unhealthy and cannot adequately bind oxygen, the body cells and tissues become starved of oxygen. This results in the heart pumping much harder than normal to send out more red blood cells for oxygen transport, to make up for the missing oxygen in the cells and tissues. This pressure and stress on the heart result in heart palpitations and abnormal heartbeats. However, no matter how hard the heart beats, without enough healthy red blood cells, the body tissues will still lack oxygen.

Anyone that usually has heart problems and experiences heart palpitations and irregular heartbeats should have their iron levels checked since iron deficiency can worsen the existing heart problems.

10. Headaches and dizziness

Constant headaches are experienced by a person with iron deficiency in their body as the mind will be overworked if it gets an irregular supply of oxygen. This is because your mind is responsible for every action that you wish to undertake and for it to work effectively it should have a regular supply of energy in the form of oxygen. If the brain does not get this oxygen, the arteries will be swollen making you experience those painful headaches.

A body that is iron-deficient will usually prioritize getting oxygen to the brain before any other tissue since the brain is among the most essential body parts. Blood that has low amounts of iron means it has less red blood cells and hemoglobin, hence lowering the amount of blood that reaches the brain. When oxygen reaching the brain is less than what is required, this can cause swelling of the arteries in the brain, leading to headaches.

A person diagnosed with anemia (an iron deficiency disease) will note that their dizziness began with the start of other anemia symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath and hair loss. Hemoglobin that is in the red blood cells carries oxygen from the lungs to all body cells and tissues. When the level of hemoglobin is low due to low amounts of iron in the blood, the body is deprived of oxygen. Shortage of oxygen in the brain or low blood pressure due to poor oxygenation of the heart’s muscles and blood vessels can lead to dizziness.

Dizziness and headaches due to iron deficiency are treated indirectly. The doctor, after evaluation and blood tests, addresses the underlying cause of the low iron levels. Supplements may be recommended and for patients undergoing chemotherapy, drugs that help stimulate the production of red blood cells in the blood are administered.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see a qualified doctor to measure your iron levels. If iron deficiency is perceived to be the cause of any of the above, the doctor can then recommend supplements or foods that will increase the iron levels in the blood. Iron deficiency, if not checked, can result in anemia, hence we should do what we can to ensure that the iron in our blood is at acceptable levels.

Vegetarians especially need to check their diet to ensure it is high in iron-rich foods since red meat is the body’s main source of iron. Women who experience a heavy menstrual flow need to talk to their doctor since they may be at risk of anemia. This also applies to expectant women, since they require iron not only for themselves but also for the growing fetus. A doctor may recommend iron supplements for expectant women.