5 Common Signs Women Could Have Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is a significant health problem affecting women globally, especially in India where 57% of women suffer from it [1]. Adolescent girls in India have a high occurrence of anemia, with 64 million being affected [2]. This type of nutritional disorder affects 2.36 billion people worldwide[3].

Iron is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in several bodily processes, and its insufficiency is a matter of great concern. Iron-deficiency anemia happens when the body doesn’t have enough iron to make healthy red blood cells.

Women are more likely to get it because of factors like menstruation and post-partum bleeding(after childbirth). Some people with mild or moderate anemia might not have any symptoms, but severe cases will result in noticeable symptoms.

Here are 5 signs to help identify if you have iron deficiency anemia that should not be ignored.

1. You feel constantly exhausted
Iron is essential in carrying oxygen through hemoglobin to the body’s tissues. If there is a deficiency in iron, the body cannot get the amount of oxygen it needs. As a result, muscles, and tissues are deprived of energy causing general fatigue and weakness [4-5].

2. You feel cold even when others do not
Iron deficiency affects the distribution of oxygen in the bloodstream, which can lead to a sensation of coldness in the extremities. As a result, individuals with iron deficiency may experience cold hands and feet more frequently or feel colder in general [6].

3. You experience abnormal heartbeats
When there is a shortage of iron, the heart is forced to work harder to distribute oxygen due to low levels of hemoglobin. This could result in an irregular heartbeat or fast and abnormal heartbeat, increasing the risk of heart failure.

4. You are easily short of breath
Hemoglobin is responsible for oxygen transportation throughout your body. Low levels of hemoglobin due to iron deficiency result in low levels of oxygen, which can prevent muscles from receiving enough oxygen. As a result, your body will work harder to produce more oxygen, increasing your breathing rate, and leading to shortness of breath [5]. That said, performing daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs, and exercising, may feel tiresome.

5. You feel depressed
Iron is important for producing dopamine, a chemical that transmits signals from the body to the brain. In the case of iron deficiency anemia, your body produces less dopamine leading to feelings of depression. According to a study, older adults with anemia were more likely to have depressive symptoms than those without anemia [7].

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Final Takeaway!
Iron deficiency anemia is a prevalent form of anemia globally, with symptoms varying in severity among individuals. To reduce its impact on daily life, it is recommended to follow a healthy lifestyle with a nutritious diet that includes iron-rich foods like chicken, meat, legumes, and green leafy vegetables (spinach). In case you are noticing any symptoms of iron deficiency, seek medical help rather than self-diagnosing.

**Consult India’s best doctors here***

(The article is reviewed by Monalisa Deka, Senior Health Content Editor)


1. Little M, Zivot C, Humphries S, Dodd W, Patel K, Dewey C. Burden and Determinants of Anemia in a Rural Population in South India: A Cross-Sectional Study. Anemia. 2018 Jul 15;2018:7123976.
2. Siva PM, Sobha A, Manjula VD. Prevalence of Anaemia and Its Associated Risk Factors Among Adolescent Girls of Central Kerala. J Clin Diagn Res. 2016 Nov;10(11):LC19-LC23.
3. Nguyen PH, Scott S, Avula R, Tran LM, Menon P. Trends and drivers of change in the prevalence of anaemia among 1 million women and children in India, 2006 to 2016. BMJ Glob Health. 2018 Oct 19;3(5):e001010.
4. Katsuhiko Yokoi, Aki Konomi. Iron deficiency without anaemia is a potential cause of fatigue: meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials and cross-sectional studies. The British Journal of Nutritional. 2017 May;117(10):1422-1431.
5. Nazma Hanif; Faiz Anwer.Chronic Iron Deficiency.StatPearls [Internet].
Updated online 10 Sep. 2022.
6. Anemia. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Updated online 24 March 2022.
7. Seyed Reza Hosseini, Ali Zabihi, Seyed Hesameddin Ebrahimi, Seyedeh Roghayeh Jafarian Amiri, Farzan Kheirkhah, and Ali Bijani. The Prevalence of Anemia and its Association with Depressive Symptoms among Older Adults in North of Iran. Journal of Research in Health and Sciences. 2018 Fall; 18(4): e00431.

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