Iron deficiency symptoms: Seven signs in your mouth that could signal a lack of iron

Iron deficiency symptoms are important to recognise because if the condition is left untreated it can make a person more at risk of illness and infection, can increase the risk of complications with the heart or lungs, and in pregnancy, can cause a greater risk of complications before and after birth.

What causes iron deficiency

Iron deficiency can occur if a person isn’t getting enough iron from their diet, and for people who are pregnant, the condition is most often caused by this.

Heavy periods are another common cause of iron deficiency, but for those whose periods have stopped, iron deficiency could be a sign of bleeding in the stomach and intestines.

This can be caused by taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, stomach ulcers, swelling of the large intestine, piles, or sometimes cancer.

How to treat iron deficiency

If you experience any of the symptoms of iron deficiency you should see your GP who will then recommend treatment.

The NHS advises: “If your blood test shows your red blood cell count is low (deficient), you’ll be prescribed iron tablets to replace the iron that’s missing from your body.

“The prescribed tablets are stronger than the supplements you can buy in pharmacies and supermarkets.

“You’ll have to take them for about 6 months. Drinking orange juice after you have taken them may help your body absorb the iron.”

How iron deficiency can be prevented

If the condition is diet related, your GP may recommends foods rich in iron so you can eat more of them.

The NHS says you may be advised to eat and drink more:

  • Dark-green leafy vegetables like watercress and curley kale
  • Cereals and bread with extra iron in them (fortified)
  • Meat
  • Pulses (beans, peas and lentils)

The health body also advises you eat and drink less:

Foods with high levels of physic acid, such as wholegrain cereals, which can stop your body absorbing iron from other foods and pills.

This is because these foods and drinks can make it harder for the body to absorb iron.


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