Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Iron deficiency symptoms

1-minute read

If you have iron deficiency, you may not realise it. It’s easy to mistake the signs of iron deficiency for simply feeling a bit run down. You may feel tired. You may find it hard to concentrate and hard to motivate yourself to do the things you need to do.

If your iron levels get so low that you become anaemic, you can get a range of symptoms, including:

  • being extremely tired and weak
  • being short of breath
  • your heart beating fast and irregularly, or both
  • being dizzy and light-headed
  • headache
  • cold hands and feet
  • sore or inflamed tongue
  • brittle nails
  • having cravings for unusual things like ice, dirt or starch

These symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, and it’s important to see your doctor before taking any iron supplements.

To confirm whether you have iron deficiency, your doctor will talk to you and examine you. They may ask you to have a blood test to look at your iron levels and to check for anaemia. You may also need other tests to find out what is causing the iron deficiency.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: January 2019

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Iron deficiency anaemia - myDr.com.au

Iron deficiency anaemia is when lack of iron means that the blood does not produce enough haemoglobin. The iron deficiency needs to be prolonged to produce anaemia.

Read more on myDr website

Iron deficiency anaemia in children - myDr.com.au

Many children do not get enough iron from their diet to meet the demands of their growing bodies. This can result in low body ironand eventually iron deficiency anaemia (low haemoglobin).

Read more on myDr website

Iron deficiency anaemia overview | Australian Red Cross Blood Service

Iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) is a common problem in primary care. It is often present in hospitalised patients, but is generally not the primary reason for admission, so may go unnoticed.

Read more on Australian Red Cross Blood Service website

I need to know about iron deficiency anaemia :: Transfusion resources

Iron is essential for the body to make haemoglobin and is found in our red cells. Haemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is also used in other important body processes

Read more on Australian Red Cross Blood Service website

Iron deficiency | Australian Red Cross Blood Service

Iron is a mineral nutrient that is essential for your body to function normally and to make haemoglobin (Hb). The treatment of iron deficiency is iron replacement therapy. Transfusion is rarely required.

Read more on Australian Red Cross Blood Service website

Iron studies - Lab Tests Online AU

Why and when to get tested for iron studies

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Childhood reflux, low iron and anaemia - Reflux Infants Support Association Inc

Long term PPI use can cause iron absorption issues. Added to refluxing picky eaters, there's a likelihood that reflux children can suffer iron deficiency.

Read more on Reflux Infants Support Association website

Iron intake for vegetarians - myDr.com.au

Iron deficiency can be a nutritional problem for vegetarians, especially women. Find out about iron in food and how to enhance your iron absorption.

Read more on myDr website

Anaemia: my doctor says I need more iron Dietitians Association of Australia

Anaemia: my doctor says I need more iron When someone has anaemia, their body is not able to transportenough oxygen around in their blood

Read more on Dietitians Association of Australia website

Anaemia in children & teenagers | Raising Children Network

Anaemia is usually caused by not having enough iron in your body. Children with anaemia might look pale and get tired. Its a good idea to see your doctor.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo