The first step in determining whether you have iron deficiency anemia is to see a doctor. Your doctor will likely ask you about your health and perform a physical exam. Iron levels may be checked through blood tests, an iron deficiency blood count (FBC) test, or a fecal occult blood test, which looks for the presence of blood in the feces. In some cases, these tests will only be performed if you are experiencing severe anemia or a blood transfusion is needed.
People who have low iron levels may also experience fatigue. Iron is needed by the body to absorb oxygen from the air, so without sufficient amounts of it, you’ll be tired all the time. The heart needs to work harder to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. As a result, you may not feel like exercising, despite your low iron levels. You might also experience restless legs syndrome. This symptom is particularly pronounced in women, and can make it difficult to sleep. Iron deficiency anemia can also result in infection in children.
If your GP finds your symptoms to be severe and if you’re already taking iron supplements, your GP will suggest a treatment. You may be prescribed iron tablets to replace the missing iron. Taking iron tablets can lead to side effects, so check with your doctor first. You should take them regularly for at least six months. If they don’t work, you’ll need to consult a dietitian.