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Learn to recognise the symptoms of Iron Deficiency.

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Brittle or spoon-shaped nails

Brittle nails chip and crack easily. Brittle nails can be a sign of iron deficiency. Another sign of iron deficiency is ‘spoon-shaped nails’. These are nails that are dipped in the middle and raised at the edges to give a rounded appearance like a spoon.

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Cold intolerance or cold hands and feet

If you feel the cold easily or regularly have cold hands and/or feet even if the temperature around you is not cold, it may be that there is not enough oxygen being delivered in your blood to your hands and feet, which could be a result of iron deficiency.

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Mouth ulcers or cracks at the corners of your mouth

Mouth ulcers are sore, white patches on the inside your mouth. There are many reasons why you might have mouth ulcers, including iron deficiency. Iron deficiency can also cause the appearance of sore, red, flaky cracks at one or both of the sides of your mouth.

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Craving to eat non-food items

If you have cravings to eat ice or non-food items such as clay, dirt, ash, and starch this could be a sign of iron deficiency. This kind of eating disorder is also called “pica”. If you eat ice regularly you may want to tell your dentist as chewing ice can damage your teeth.

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Mental fatigue, dizziness, irritability, and loss of concentration

Feeling mentally tired, irritable, dizzy or losing concentration quickly could be due to iron deficiency. Iron helps your blood deliver oxygen around the body, and feeling irritable, dizzy or tired may be a sign that your brain is not getting enough oxygen.

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Hair loss

It is natural for some hair to fall out when you are washing or combing it, but if you are losing clumps of hair, or more hair than normal, it could be caused by iron deficiency. Increasing your iron levels could stop or reduce your hair loss.

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Headaches can occur for many reasons such as colds, being dehydrated or eyesight problems. Repeated headaches could also be a sign of iron deficiency.

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Increased susceptibility to infections

If you seem to be picking up more infections than usual, such as coughs and colds, this could be a sign that you have iron deficiency. Iron is needed by your body to maintain a healthy immune system.

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If you are iron deficient, you may look pale. This paleness may be most noticeable on the face, nails, inner mouth and lining of the eyes. If you pull your lower eyelid down, the colour of the lining should be a rich, red colour. If it is a very pale peach colour or yellow, this may indicate that you have iron deficiency.

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Restless leg syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is a disturbing need to move your legs when resting, for example when you are in bed. This distressing feeling often goes away when you move your legs. If you are iron deficient you are nine times more likely to experience restless leg syndrome than the general population.

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If you are iron deficient, your blood may not contain enough oxygen for your muscles to do normal activities such as walking. Your body tries to make up for this by increasing your breathing rate to get more oxygen into your body.

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Sore tongue or dry mouth

Iron deficiency can affect the surface of your tongue making it feel sore for no apparent reason. Likewise, you may have an uncomfortably dry mouth even if you have been drinking plenty of liquids.

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