Heart and Blood Conditions

Iron-Deficiency Anemia Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Iron-Deficiency Anemia

The most common symptoms of anemia appear when cells can't get enough oxygen. If your child has anemia, you are most likely to notice that your child seems more tired, weak or low-energy than normal. Fatigue like this sometimes makes children more irritable. So you may notice they are more fussy.

You might also notice these symptoms:

  • Pale skin, lips or nail beds compared to their normal color
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Having headaches
  • Having cold hands and feet
  • Rapid heartbeat or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)

Most children do not get symptoms unless their anemia is severe. Someone with a milder case of anemia may not really notice any symptoms.

When anemia is more severe or long lasting, it can lead to other health problems.

Iron-Deficiency Anemia Diagnosis

If you think your child may have anemia, take him to the doctor to find out for sure - and to find out the cause. It may be from some other cause than low iron intake.

The doctor will ask questions about your child's symptoms and other aspects of his health. The doctor will also examine your child to see how severe the symptoms are and to check for signs of any other health problems.

To tell if it's anemia, your child will need a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC). Doctors use this test to learn your child's level of red blood cells (hematocrit level) and his level of hemoglobin. Low levels are signs of anemia.

The CBC gives doctors other details about your child's blood, too. It allows them to check the size of your child's red blood cells. These cells are usually smaller in people with iron-deficiency anemia.

Blood tests can also show the level of iron in your child's body.

There are many possible causes of anemia. So the doctor may do tests to check for other causes besides low iron. For example, anemia can also come from low intake of vitamin B12 or, in children, from lead poisoning.