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The Hidden Cause Of Tiredness And Low Energy

Modern life can be stressful. Juggling work, finances, relationships and social media is no easy task! So when we start to feel tired and sapped of energy or struggle to sleep, we often blame it on stress affecting our mental well being. But what if this common health condition was a hidden reason behind our low mood and lethargy?

What Is Iron Deficiency Anaemia?

Anaemia is a blood disorder, and iron deficiency anaemia is the most common form of anaemia in the world [1]. It can have a wide range of symptoms that may sound familiar to you. If you don’t intake enough iron, your red blood cells struggle to carry oxygen around your body [2]. This is because hemoglobin is the protein that enables red blood cells to do their job, and hemoglobin requires iron to be made. 

Not getting enough oxygen throughout your body can lead to a range of unhealthy effects. Let’s look at the most common signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia.


If you aren’t getting enough oxygen, you’re going to be low energy. Your body has to work harder just to move your blood around to your muscles. This is why fatigue, or feeling constantly tired, is the most common sign of iron deficiency anaemia.

Of course feeling tired when we need to rest is natural and daily factors such as exercise or stress can contribute. However, if you’re constantly fatigued and struggling to concentrate or be productive throughout the day, this could be a classic sign that you aren’t getting enough iron.

Blonde woman on a train resting her head on the table and covering her face | Tired All The Time? 6 Common Anaemia Symptoms | e-Surgery

Heart Palpitations

If you notice your heartbeats briefly pounding or beating irregularly, you’re likely experiencing heart palpitations [3]. These aren’t uncommon, and can be caused by a range of lifestyle triggers such as caffeine intake or anxiety. Frequent heart palpitations can be a cause for concern though – they may indicate you are suffering from long term iron deficiency anaemia.

Without enough iron, the heart has to pump harder just to get enough oxygen around the body. Over time this can lead to heart palpitations. If the anaemia isn’t treated, the heart can suffer more severe problems including heart murmurs or even increased risk of heart failure [4].

Dizziness & Headaches

Frequent feelings of dizziness in combination with headaches are another notable sign of iron deficiency anaemia. If you find that standing up quickly often leads to that head rush sensation, or prolonged physical activity has you feeling faint, you may not be getting enough oxygen to the brain. This can be caused by red blood cells being unable to effectively distribute oxygen due to low hemoglobin, which can also cause blood vessels in the brain to swell leading to headaches. Iron deficiency could even cause migraines [5].

Concerned about migraines and headaches? Check out Home Remedies to Treat Migraines.

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Shortness of Breath

Do you get out of breath more easily than you used to? Simple daily tasks such as climbing stairs or walking to the shops could be becoming more difficult as you find yourself breathing heavier and having to take breaks. Sometimes you need to get used to more cardio, but other times it’s not so simple. 

Low oxygen levels caused by iron deficiency mean even trivial physical chores can take the wind out of you. In combination with other anaemia symptoms such as fatigue, you can find yourself lethargic and wondering why it’s so hard to get through the day.

Pale Skin

Yes, many of us are naturally pale! But if you notice unnatural paleness, or pallor, it’s a sign of anemia [6]. Hemoglobin is essential for blood in many ways, one of which is providing that vivid red colour. If there isn’t enough in the blood, the colour becomes less intense which can show in the skin. Specific places to look for include the lower inner eyelid. It should be red, but in anemic individuals it can become a pale pink or even yellow. 

If you’ve lost the glow from your skin and look somewhat sickly, you should go for a blood test. Pallor is one of the physical signs a doctor looks for when determining if somebody has moderate or severe iron deficiency.

Hair Loss

It’s normal to lose some hair when brushing or washing it. But if more is falling out than usual, it may be caused by your hair becoming damaged due to lack of oxygen. Hair becomes weak and dry if blood flow (and therefore oxygen flow) to the scalp is compromised. In anaemic individuals, this is more common. In severe cases, it might contribute to hair loss [7].

If you’re worried about hair loss, check out Can Home Remedies Treat Hair Loss?

Hair Loss, middle aged man looking into a mirror separating his hair at the parting and inspecting his receding hair line | Tired All The Time? 6 Common Anaemia Symptoms | e-Surgery

Are Women More At Risk Of Iron Deficiency Anaemia?

Both men and women can become deficient in iron, but it’s statistically most common in children, women and older adults. Pregnant women or women with heavy periods are the most likely to suffer from iron deficiency anaemia [8].

How Do You Treat Iron Deficiency Anaemia?

Once you’ve noticed the signs and symptoms, the first step is getting a blood test. A doctor will take a sample of your blood and check the red blood cell count. If it’s deficient, then you’ll need treatment.

Prescription iron tablets are the standard course of treatment. Ferrous Fumarate is an effective medication for treating iron deficiency anaemia, capable of relieving symptoms after a week. When you’re prescribed Ferrous Fumarate, the dosage you take daily will depend on a variety of factors, such as the severity of the anaemia and whether it is being taken to treat the condition or prevent it. It’s recommended you take Ferrous Fumarate on an empty stomach and drink it down with orange juice, which is believed to aid iron absorption [9].

It’s amazing how much better you can feel physically and mentally once your body has the iron it needs! So if you have any of the classic signs and symptoms outlined above, don’t delay. Get your blood tested and look to get treated with Ferrous Fumarate.

Which Foods Are Rich In Iron?

In addition to supplements or prescription medication, we can get iron naturally through our diet. Iron rich foods include:

1. Red meats and liver

2. Green leafy vegetables such as kale

3. Fortified cereals

4. Best of all … dark chocolate!

Some foods and drinks can inhibit iron absorption when consumed in large quantities, such as tea, coffee and dairy.

Close up of a person holding green leafy kale towards the camera | Tired All The Time? 6 Common Anaemia Symptoms | e-Surgery

Are There Other Kinds of Anaemia?

Iron deficiency isn’t the only cause of anaemia. Vitamin B-12 or folate deficiency anaemia is a condition in which red blood cells don’t function properly due to a low absorption of Vitamin B-12 [10].

Iron deficiency and B-12 deficiency can share symptoms, which may include:

1. Fatigue 

2. Depression 

3. Confusion

4. Muscle weakness

Thankfully, the blood test for iron deficiency anaemia will also test for Vitamin B-12 or folate deficiency anaemia. It’s typically treated with B12 supplements via injection or tablets, and a change in diet may be recommended.


  1. Common Types Of Anemia | American Society of Haematology
  2. Anemia Overview | National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
  3. Heart Palpitations and Ectopic Beats | NHS
  4. Anemia and Iron Deficiency in Heart Failure | NCBI
  5. Correlation between Migraine Attacks and Iron Deficiency Anemia | NCBI
  6. Accuracy and Reliability of Pallor for Detecting Anaemia | NCBI
  7. Iron Deficiency and Potential Relationship to Hair Loss |NCBI
  8. Iron Deficiency in Women | NCBI
  9. Ferrous Fumarate: Medicine for Treating Iron Deficiency | NHS
  10. Vitamin B-12 or Folate Deficiency Anaemia | NHS

Further Reading

  1. Iron Deficiency Anaemia | NHS
  2. Anaemia | PatientInfo
  3. Ferrous Fumarate | National Institute For Health And Care Excellence