Iron deficiency causes shortness of breath

Iron Deficiency: Signs and Symptoms

In the development of iron deficiency, a distinction is made between the following stages:

  1. Storage iron deficiency
  2. Impaired formation of red blood cells (iron-deficient erythropoiesis)
  3. Iron deficiency anemia.

The signs of iron deficiency are different in acute and chronic iron deficiency: In the case of acute blood loss, clinical signs are often absent - apart from oxygen deficiency with a considerable drop in hemoglobin. In the case of severe, long-term iron deficiency, in addition to pale skin, deficiency symptoms such as brittleness of the fingernails and hair, torn corners of the mouth (mouth corner ragades) and tongue atrophy (changes in the sense of taste due to flattening and partial loss of taste buds) are usually found.

First signs of iron deficiency

First of all, the body can compensate for a reduced iron intake by drawing on its own reserves. If the iron stores are exhausted, the formation of new red blood cells is hindered and anemia occurs.


The first symptoms appear relatively late: The person affected is often exhausted and feels tired, forgetful or nervous, irritable and exhausted.

Symptoms of iron deficiency

As long as the body breaks down the iron reserves, the blood pigment hemoglobin remains in the normal range. When the deposits are used up, the body falls back on the iron in the blood. Headaches, sensitivity to cold, increasing nervousness and a drop in performance can then be the result.

Signs of iron deficiency

  • Pale skin and mucous membrane
  • shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • dizziness
  • a headache
  • Drop in performance
  • forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nervousness, inner restlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Fits of faintness
  • Disorders of heat regulation: feeling cold
  • Increased susceptibility to infection
  • Skin dryness
  • Burning tongue
  • Chapped lips
  • difficulties swallowing
  • heartburn
  • Severe hair loss, dull, split hair
  • Brittle nails