Iron is an essential nutrient for your body, which you typically get from your food. It is needed for your mental and physical health and to keep your energy levels up. Iron is present in a substance called haemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells. Haemoglobin carries oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the rest of the body. This aids your concentration, physical energy and immune system.

Symptoms and signs you might be Iron deficient or anaemic..

Fatigue, headache and irritability are common symptoms of iron deficiency, but there are other symptoms too. You may experience one or more of these symptoms at the same time.


Shortness of breath and a Racing Heart

During exercise, it is normal to experience some shortness of breath and a racing heart because there is an increased demand for oxygen in your body. If you are iron deficient, your blood may not contain enough oxygen for your muscles to do everyday activities such as walking.

Your body tries to make up for this by increasing your breathing rate to get more oxygen into your body, and by increasing your heart rate to help move the oxygen around your body.

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.

Cracks and ulcers in your mouth

Iron deficiency can also cause the appearance of sore, red, flaky cracks at one or both of the sides of your mouth. This feels more extreme than when your lips are chapped due to cold weather.

Mouth ulcers are sore white patches on the inside your mouth. There are many reasons why you might have mouth ulcers, including biting the inside of your mouth, stress and being run down, but another reason could be iron deficiency.

Cold intolerance or cold hands and feet

If you feel the cold easily or regularly have cold hands and/or feet even in warm environments, 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.

Craving to eat non-food items

Craving certain foods from time to time is normal, especially during pregnancy. However 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 are eating ice regularly you may also want to discuss this with your dentist as frequently chewing ice can damage your teeth.

Restless leg syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is a disturbing need to move your legs when resting, such as when you are in bed. This distressing feeling often goes away when you move your legs.

It is possible to have restless leg syndrome but not be iron deficient, but if you are iron deficient you are nine times more likely to experience restless leg syndrome than the general population.

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.

Brittle or spoon-shaped nails

Brittle nails chip and crack easily. Spending a lot of time with your hands in water or using some nail polishes can lead to brittle nails, but brittle nails can also 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.


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

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.

Dizziness, irritability and loss of concentration

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


In iron deficiency anaemia, the bone marrow is ‘starved of iron’. As well as not being able to make enough red blood cells (anaemia), there can also be a reduction in platelet production. Platelets are the first step in blood clotting, so a reduction in platelets leads to increased bruising.

Looking Pale

Haemoglobin is a red-coloured pigment. If you are iron deficient, there may be less haemoglobin in your blood and you may look pale. For some, this is most notable on their face, nails, inner mouth and the 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 or iron deficiency anaemia.

Book an appointment..

You can download our patient information sheet: Patient Information Sheet

To book an appointment please email us a short history and copy of your blood results, we will respond with options about online or in person consultations and availability for an infusion (normally most Monday and Friday afternoons):

Our staff are available and happy to answer your every question

020 3875 8171