You are worn-out, you’re constantly yawning, and your friends tell you that you look pale? The cause could be iron deficiency. Iron is a trace element that is found primarily in the blood. Iron ensures that the red blood pigment, haemoglobin, can be produced, which is important for the transport of oxygen and for energy metabolism. If iron is lacking, the cells’ ability to perform is weakened, as is your entire body.
Typical symptoms are: constant fatigue, headaches, pale skin, dizzy spells, and shortness of breath or concentration difficulties.
This mostly affects women, because their bodies lose blood and iron at every menstrual cycle. Vegans and vegetarians, blood donors, recently operated patients, pregnant women and high level athletes are also advised to keep an eye on their blood iron levels.
Possible effects on the heart
Prolonged iron deficiency can lead to anaemia, but if it is recognized and treated early enough, it usually does not cause complications beside the mentioned symptoms. If left untreated, it can become more severe and lead to heart problems such as a rapid or irregular heartbeat due to the fact that the heart must pump a greater volume of blood to compensate the lack of oxygen.
A self-test could be helpful
During pregnancy, severe complications like premature birth or underweight babies can occur. Children and infants with iron deficiency can suffer from growth problems. With a simple self-test, it’s easy to check at home whether iron levels are low. If that is the case, people affected may change their diet after discussion with a doctor, or supplement with iron.