Regardless of age and sex, iron is an important nutrient for everyone?s life. It not only offers ample number of benefits but is also a necessity for proper functioning of the body. However sometimes a person might have less iron content in the body without even knowing. There are two main reasons behind it, Firstly, a person does not consume enough iron content. Secondly, it could be a problem related to the digestive system of a person. If you feel weakness and like something wrong is going with your body, then there might be iron deficiency in your body, and you should get tested. Check out these details to know more.
Symptoms of low level of iron:
A low level of iron is common in women and if not treated, it may lead to a deficiency of iron (anemia) in the body. Anemia is a condition in which your blood does not carry a sufficient number of RBCs. Hence, your body may experience certain symptoms, and these are as follows:
1. Tiredness or low energy level
2. Problem in breathing
3. Having frequent headaches and skin loses its color/ pale skin
4. Unbalanced body temperature (often feeling cold)
5. Difficulty in swallowing and sore tongue
6. Itchiness, hair loss, hearing certain noises in your head, etc.
If you are experiencing the above symptoms, then you should get yourself a diagnostic test. Also, keep in mind that you will be experiencing these symptoms while your body is progressing from low iron level to iron deficiency. There are different iron supplements for women available in the market that one can take to cure the deficiency in their body.
Three stages of iron deficiency
1. Mild iron deficiency: It is the first stage that shows that the level of iron is being compromised in the body. Ferritin is the storage form of iron and in this stage, the level of ferritin decreases than the expected ferritin blood levels. The count of ferritin is around 10-30 mg/ L. Also, the count of red blood cells containing hemoglobin is above 12 g/dL. In women and men, the level of hematocrit is above 36% and 41%, respectively.
2. Mild functional iron deficiency: In this stage, the level of ferritin, as well as iron stores, falls below 10 mg/ L. But the count of RBCs and hematocrit remains the same as in the mild iron deficiency stage.
3. Iron deficiency anemia: In this final stage, the condition of a person becomes worse as there is a major drop in the level of hemoglobin. The count of RBCs falls below 12 g/dL and hematocrit also falls below 36% and 41% in the bodies of women and men, respectively. Iron stores with ferritin also drop below 10 mg C/ L.
Diagnostic test for iron deficiency
1. Complete blood count test: This is the first and most important that is used to diagnose iron deficiency (anemia). In this test, the level of hemoglobin and hematocrit in a body is checked. If the level of both, hemoglobin and hematocrit, is low then it implies that your body may be suffering from anemia. This test also measures the number of WBC’s, RBC’s and platelets in your body. If the number is irregular that means, there can be a blood infection. In the last, one more test is undertaken to look at mean corpuscular volume (MCV), to be sure if your body is suffering from anemia or not and what is the cause of anemia if the body is suffering from it. MCV measures the average size of RBCs.
2. Other blood tests: If a CBC test confirms that you are suffering from iron deficiency (anemia), then your doctor will need to find the cause for the same so that they can provide you appropriate treatment. This involves two tests- reticulocyte count and peripheral smear. The first one shows if your bone marrow is making RBCs at the correct rate or not and the latter one shows the characteristics of RBCs present in your body. If the size of RBC is small and pale, then it means you are suffering from anemia.
3. Tests to measure iron levels: Serum iron, serum ferritin, and transferrin level, are measured to know the amount of iron in the body, level of iron stores used by the body, and iron-binding capacity of the body, respectively.