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What it feels like to have iron deficiency or iron deficiency anaemia

Iron deficiency (ID) and iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) can affect people in different ways. You might feel very tired or get headaches, or you might have noticed changes in your skin or nails. As ID/IDA affects each person differently, you might have a few or many of these symptoms. The symptoms you have may depend on how severe the condition is. If you are not feeling like yourself, you should talk to your doctor to get to the source of the problem.

What are the symptoms?


As ID/IDA affects each person differently, you might have a few or many of these symptoms.1


brain mouth heart lungs arm hand fingers leg foot
  • Headaches
  • Hair loss (more hair falling out when washing or brushing it)
  • Hearing ringing, buzzing or hissing noises inside your head or ears (tinnitus)
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Dizziness
  • Painful open sores (ulcers) in the corners of your mouth
  • Food tasting strange
  • A sore tongue
  • Wanting to eat non-food items, such as paper or ice (pica)
  • Finding it hard to swallow
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling itchy
  • Cold hands
  • Pale skin
  • Spoon-shaped nails
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Cold feet

Is it normal for symptoms to have a big effect on my life?


In this video, Carolin, who has Crohn’s disease, explains how ID/IDA affects her.



Symptoms of ID/IDA should not be ignored. Making an appointment with your doctor will establish whether you have the condition and what the best course of action is for you.




  1. NHS. Iron deficiency anaemia. Available at: Accessed December 2021.