Warning signs of iron deficiency in IBD
One of the main symptoms of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia is fatigue, a more extreme version of tiredness. If you are experiencing fatigue, you may feel physically and mentally exhausted and lack energy for a number of days each week, even if you have not been doing any physical activities that are particularly tiring1. You may be too exhausted to complete normal daily tasks such as getting dressed or going shopping, and you may often feel too tired to spend time with friends or family.
If you would like to assess your level of tiredness you can use our Fatigue Survey.
Tiredness and fatigue are well known symptoms of IBD2 and anaemia. If you are experiencing fatigue it is important to speak to your doctor so that they can find out what the most likely cause may be.
There are also many other signs that may indicate that you have iron deficiency or iron deficiency anaemia. These include:
- Dizziness3, irritability4 and loss of concentration5
- Looking pale6
- Shortness of breath and a racing heart7
- Sore tongue or dry mouth8,9
- Cold intolerance or cold hands and feet10
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)12,13
- Hair loss14
- Brittle or spoon-shaped nails15
- Increased susceptibility to infections16
Use our Symptom Browser to see the complete list of symptoms that iron deficiency can cause and to understand what each of these symptoms involves.
If you are iron deficient, treating your condition with extra iron can improve your quality of life on a daily basis. It could improve your concentration and productivity at work and give you more energy to exercise and socialize. You don’t have to get used to feeling tired all of the time.
Because there could be many underlying conditions causing your symptoms, it is important that you discuss all of your symptoms with your doctor.
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- 2. Gasche C, Lomer MCE, Cavill I, Weiss G. Iron, anaemia, and inflammatory bowel diseases. Gut. 2004;53(8):1190-7. doi:10.1136/gut.2003.035758.
- 3. Paterson JA, Davis J, Gregory M, et al. A study on the effects of low haemoglobin on postnatal women. Midwifery. 1994;10(2):77-86.
- 4. Radlowski EC, Johnson RW. Perinatal iron deficiency and neurocognitive development. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013;7:1-11.
- 5. Albacar G, Sans T, Martín-Santos R, et al. An association between plasma ferritin concentrations measured 48 h after delivery and postpartum depression. J Affect Disord. 2011;131:136-42. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2010.11.006.
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- 7. Milman N. Postpartum anemia I: definition, prevalence, causes, and consequences. Ann Hematol. 2011;90(11):1247-53. doi:10.1007/s00277-011-1279-z.
- 8. Baird IM, Dodge OG, Palmer FJ, Wawman RJ. The tongue and oesophagus in iron-deficiency anaemia and the effect of iron therapy. J Clin Pathol. 1961;14:603-9.
- 9. Osaki T, Ueta E, Arisawa K, Kitamura Y, Matsugi N. The pathophysiology of glossal pain in patients with iron deficiency and anemia. Am J Med Sci. 1999;318(5):324-9.
- 10. World Health Organization. Iron deficiency anaemia. Assessment, prevention and control: A guide for programme managers.; 2001:1-114.
- 11. Vuković-Cvetković V, Plavec D, Lovrencić-Huzjan A, Galinović I, Serić V, Demarin V. Is iron deficiency anemia related to menstrual migraine? Post hoc analysis of an observational study evaluating clinical characteristics of patients with menstrual migraine. Acta Clin Croat. 2010;49(4):389-94.
Sun ER, Chen CA, Ho G, Earley CJ, Allen RP. Iron and The Restless Legs Syndrome. Sleep. 1998;21(4):381-387.
- 12. Sun ER, Chen CA, Ho G, Earley CJ, Allen RP. Iron and The Restless Legs Syndrome. Sleep. 1998;21(4):381-387.
- 13. Wang J, O’Reilly B, Venkataraman R, Mysliwiec V, Mysliwiec A. Efficacy of oral iron in patients with restless legs syndrome and a low-normal ferritin: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Sleep Med. 2009;10(9):973-5. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2008.11.003.
- 14. Stein J, Dignass A. Management of iron deficiency anemia in inflammatory bowel disease–a practical approach. Ann Gastroenterol. 2012;26:1-10.
- 15. Cashman MW, Sloan SB. Nutrition and nail disease. Clin Dermatol. 2010;28(4):420-5. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2010.03.037.
- 16. Dhur A, Galan P, Hercberg S. Iron status, immune capacity and resistance to infections. Comp Biochem Physiol A Comp Physiol. 1989;94(1):11-9.