How Do I Know if I've Got Iron Deficiency?
If you have clicked on this article, then you are probably wondering, how do I know if I’ve got iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency anaemia is a condition where you have a decreased level of haemoglobin in your red blood cells, which means your body can’t get the amount of oxygen it needs.
Anaemia is very common in older people, accounting for 30% of people aged 85 and over, but the condition can affect anyone at any age.
We will outline a few key facts about iron deficiency in this article, which we hope you find useful.
How do I know if I’ve got iron deficiency?
Have you ever wondered, how do I know if I’ve got iron deficiency?
Well, here are the symptoms to look out for:
- Feeling weak.
- Lack of energy.
- Dyspnoea (sudden shortness of breath or breathing difficulty).
- Dry or damaged hair.
- Hair loss.
- Cold hands.
- Increased heart rate.
- Abnormal paleness, or lack of colour of the skin.
- Altered sense of taste.
- Unusual cravings: e.g. a desire to eat peculiar substances such as dirt or ice (a condition called pica).
- Cracks at the corner of the mouth.
- Open sores (ulcers) on the corners of the mouth.
- Brittle, curved fingernails which chip and crack easily.
- More frequent infections.
- Trouble concentrating.
- Restless legs.
- Bruising easily.
- Sore muscles.
How much iron do adults need per day?
- 7 mg a day for men over 18
- 8 mg a day for women aged 19 to 50
- 7 mg a day for women over 50
The recommended daily iron intake is 1.8 times higher for vegetarians and vegans, as they do not eat meat.
For pregnant women, around 27 mg of iron is needed per day.
What are normal iron levels?
After you take a blood test at your local GP, they will check your iron levels.
Why is it important for pregnant women to have healthy iron levels?
Iron plays a key role in a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women need roughly twice the amount of iron than they did before. A pregnant woman’s body needs iron to make extra blood for the baby, to supply oxygen from her lungs to her organs and to the baby. This puts extra strain on the mother’s iron stores, thereby increasing the risk of maternal and infant mortality.
If a pregnant woman has insufficient iron levels, then this increases the risk of premature birth, low birth weight and postpartum depression.
Pregnant women are often advised by their doctors to take prenatal vitamins which contain iron, to prevent and treat iron deficiency.
Who is at high risk of iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency can occur at any age. However, there are certain risk factors that may make a person more vulnerable to iron deficiency.
You are at greater risk of iron deficiency if you:
- are menstruating.
- are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- a regular blood donor.
- have regular nose bleeds.
- do not have enough iron in your diet.
- you are a teenager who is growing rapidly.
- have a health condition which causes bleeding (e.g. stomach ulcer, stomach cancer, or bowel cancer).
- are taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- are unable to absorb iron properly from food.
- have a chronic illness such as cancer or an autoimmune disease.
- are an athlete (because regular exercise increases the body’s need for iron.)
How do you treat iron deficiency?
To treat iron deficiency, you can take iron tablets. These can be prescribed to you by your doctor.
If you suspect you are deficient in iron (anaemic), you can ask your GP for a blood test. They will check if your red blood cell count is normal. If the test shows that your red blood cell count is low, then your GP will prescribe you iron tablets and advise you on how to take them.
You should never take iron tablets if you have not been advised to by your doctor.
Never take more than the recommended dosage of iron tablets, as directed by your doctor or pharmacist. If you take too many iron supplements, this can damage your cells and even lead to serious symptoms such as iron poisoning. For this reason, it is especially important to keep iron tablets away from children.
To increase your iron levels quickly, you can also have IV Iron infusion treatment. Here, iron is delivered directly to your body through an IV drip. The treatment usually takes 30 to 60 minutes to complete.
Do babies need iron supplements?
No, babies do not need to take iron supplements, so they should never be given these.
For the first 6 months of life, breastfed babies will get all the iron they need from their mother’s milk. If the baby isn’t breastfed, they should feed on iron-fortified infant formula for the first 12 months.
Once babies start eating solid foods, they will absorb the iron from their diet.
Read this chart below to see how much iron children need per day:
How much iron they need per day
7 to 12 months old
1 to 3 years old
4 to 8 years old
9 to 13 years old
Can I test myself for iron levels?
Yes. Here at Official Rapid Tests, we offer an Instant Iron Deficiency Test, which you can take from the comfort of your home. This is a self-administered finger-prick test, with easy-to-follow instructions and all the test kit materials provided.
Inside your test kit box, you will find:
- a test cassette
- a buffer
- an alcohol pad
- a capillary dropper
- a lancet
Simply follow the instructions provided, to take the test correctly, and the test will measure the levels of anaemia in your blood. We will inform you via email of our full instructions on how to take your test and send the kit back to our accredited lab for analysis.
Once your results and personalised report are ready to view, you will receive a notification via email to log in to the Official Rapid Test online platform.
Using an at-home test kit is super convenient if you have a busy lifestyle. It means you don’t have to wait weeks to get your iron levels checked at your GP.
You can take the test at home and find out almost instantly if you are deficient in iron- which means you can start taking the steps to boost your iron levels.
Click here to shop our Instant Iron Deficiency Test.
If your results are outside the normal range and are of concern, it is a priority that you contact your local GP or emergency service by calling 111 or 999.
Please note: If you feel sick, unwell or are concerned about your health, it is your responsibility to get in touch with the emergency services as soon as possible, do not wait for results to be issued.
Disclaimer: If your test range is abnormal, we will not be held responsible for follow-up treatments or notifying a healthcare professional. By taking a test with us, you agree that you will take the necessary steps to follow up with a healthcare provider independently.
Read more articles like this
To learn more about iron deficiency, health tests, healthcare, and COVID testing, click here to read our blog articles on:
- What Happens if Iron Is Too Low?
- Can I Treat Iron Deficiency Myself?
- Welzo & NFC technology
- How Do You Test for Strep A?
- Coronavirus Symptoms in Children
- Walk-in Clinics for COVID Testing
- How to Get a COVID Recovery Certificate UK
- How to Get a PCR Test for Travel
About Official Rapid Tests
At Official Rapid Tests, we are a UK Government listed testing provider. We are a team of medical industry experts, with a combined experience of 40 years in the testing, diagnostic and medical services sector.
Are you looking to test yourself for Covid-19?
Book a Covid test at one of our test centres, as we have over 120 clinics all over the UK. To book a Covid Test with us at your nearest test centre, click here.
If you are not sure what kind of Covid Test you need, then click here to take our quiz. This will tell you which type of Covid test is suitable based on your travel requirements.
Our Covid tests are perfect for use as proof that you have negative Covid status if you are travelling. With every negative result, you will receive a signed note from one of our doctors, declaring that you are Covid-free and fit to travel internationally.
Read more articles on travelling, Covid tests and health tests on our blog here.
We hope this article has answered the question, ‘how do I know if I’ve got iron deficiency?’