Iron Deficiency - Symptoms

Authored by Dr Jacqueline Payne, 26 May 2017

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Dr Hannah Gronow, 26 May 2017

The symptoms of iron deficiency may be very vague, particularly if isn't bad enough to have caused you to have developed iron-deficiency anaemia as well.

Some common symptoms are:

  • Tiredness.
  • Struggling to concentrate at work or college.
  • Memory problems.
  • Reduced ability to exercise.
  • Hair losing its condition, and possibly hair loss.
  • Nails becoming brittle and breaking or splitting easily. They may even change shape, becoming concave or spoon-shaped, or may develop ridges.
  • Cuts and grazes taking a long time to heal.
  • A sore tongue.
  • Sores at the corners of your mouth.
  • Restless legs syndrome.
  • Infants with iron deficiency may not develop as quickly as normal.
  • Pica syndrome: the craving or eating of substances not normally eaten, such as clay, chalk or coal.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world.

If you have had one or more of the symptoms listed above, for more than a few weeks, you should arrange to see a doctor or nurse. You can then have investigations carried out, which will include looking to see if iron deficiency is causing your symptoms. If you are short of iron, it is important to get medical advice. This is not just to confirm that iron deficiency is the cause of your symptoms; it is also to find out why you are short of iron, as the cause can be serious.

Many of the symptoms of iron deficiency are also the symptoms of the busy, and sometimes stressful, lives we live. Tiredness and struggling to focus at work, for example, are very common and not usually due to iron deficiency. They usually just get better on their own after a week or two - or after a good holiday!

Further reading and references

Hi new to the group. Trying to cut down on alcohol intake. Very difficult when you are staying and socialising with those who drink.

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