In today’s society, we’ve almost grown used to being tired all of the time. Far from being unusual, fatigue and exhaustion almost seem to be the norm — even an expected and accepted state of being — ALL THE TIME.

But, aside from the occasional bouts of insomnia or the nights when Netflix wins the binge-watch battle (“Just one more…”), lasting fatigue is usually a sign that something is not right with your body. A possible culprit: iron deficiency.

Iron — An Essential Mineral

Iron is called an essential mineral because it is — well, essential. Your body needs iron to make healthy red blood cells. It’s in every cell in your body, and without it, your body would not be able to make hemoglobin and myoglobin, which are both oxygen-carrying workhorses! Iron-deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia that occurs if you do not have enough iron in your body. You can be assured that your body will let you know soon enough if you are lacking, but many health experts believe it should never reach that point.

Signs and Symptoms

As we mentioned above, fatigue is the most common symptom of iron-deficiency anemia. It can make it hard to do even the most basic activities. Some other signs and symptoms, according to the National Institutes of Health, include:

  • Brittle nails or spooning of the nails
  • Cracks at the sides of the mouth
  • Pale skin
  • Swelling or soreness of the tongue
  • Coldness in the hands and feet
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat

Irregular heartbeat is usually a sign that the iron deficiency has gotten to a very serious level. And one other symptom worth noting is “Pica.” Pica is when a person has unusual food cravings for nonfood items — things such as ice, dirt, paint, or starch. It is a disorder that can be associated with other conditions as well.

It’s Not Just a Diet Thing

Many people think of iron-deficiency anemia as a problem for those following a strict vegan diet. It is true that those not getting enough iron-rich foods like meat and eggs need to be aware to consume enough dark, leafy greens to keep their levels high enough. But, there are plenty of other reasons you might be iron deficient. Women with heavy periods are at risk as are women who are pregnant. People with slow, chronic blood loss (things like peptic ulcers, hiatal hernias, colon polyps, or colorectal cancer) should be aware of their increased risk. Some people find their ability to absorb iron from their food is compromised because of disorders such as celiac disease.

Take Control of Your Health

If you’ve been experiencing any of the signs and symptoms above and suspect you may have iron-deficiency anemia, Any Lab Test Now offers you two options:

  1. TIBC (Total Iron Binding Capacity) Test – This is a basic test that will measure the amount of iron in your blood. Samples are preferred to be collected in the morning from a fasting state, since iron values naturally decrease during the course of the day.
  2. Anemia Panel – This is a comprehensive panel for those looking to take a deeper look. It includes the TIBC Test along with five others: Complete Blood Count, Ferritin, Reticulocyte Count, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid Tests.

Both of these tests will provide you with critical information that will help you get to the root cause of your symptoms and give you and your doctor the details you need to move forward towards a stronger, healthier YOU.

Win Your Fight Against Fatigue

Exhaustion doesn’t have to be a way of life. If you’ve addressed the obvious (we’re looking at you, binge-watching!) it may be time to consider other possible causes. Consider Any Lab Test Now your partner in putting your health first.