With the hectic lives that many of us lead, it’s not surprising that the signs of iron deficiency often get brushed off or even go entirely unnoticed, often until the iron stores have been depleted to the point of a person becoming anemic. The more deficient in iron that our bodies become, the more pronounced the symptoms will be. A person can have an iron deficiency without being anemic, though left untreated the iron stores will drop low enough to cause anemia.
Though iron deficiency in its early stage doesn’t always cause symptoms, being aware of the triad of iron deficiency symptoms can alert you to a potential problem so that you can seek treatment sooner rather than later and have a better chance of replenishing your iron stores before they drop too low.
- Chronic fatigue
- Trouble concentrating
As mentioned, our busy schedules and daily stressors can often make us experience these same symptoms. Who hasn’t felt irritable and tired after a busy or stressful week at work or school? There are also medical conditions other than iron deficiency and anemia that can be responsible for similar symptoms.
If you find yourself feeling fatigued and sluggish on a regular basis regardless of how much sleep you get and experience issues with concentration and irritability that don’t seem to be getting any better, then a trip to the doctor is in order to check your iron. This can be done through simple blood tests that check your levels of:
- Hemoglobin (HGB), which is a protein in your red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen. HGB levels vary depending on your age and gender;
- Hematocrit (HCT), which is the proportion of the total blood volume that is composed of red blood cells. This test lets a doctor know if you have too many or too few red blood cells;
- Ferritin is a protein that helps to store iron in the body. Low levels of ferritin are usually indicative of low iron stores.
Your doctor will recommend eating foods rich in iron or taking an oral iron supplement depending on your symptoms and test results.
Content and advice provided on The Iron Maiden is for information purposes only and should not serve as a substitute for a licensed health care provider, who is knowledgeable about an individual’s unique health care needs